Reversing car culture

October 20, 2006

The University of East Anglia takes green initiative and appoints a travel adviser, reports Claire Sanders

Staff and students at the University of East Anglia are being encouraged to consider greener and healthier travel arrangements by a dedicated personal adviser.

The appointment is part of a trend, with universities increasingly acknowledging that staff and student travel contributes significantly to their carbon impact.

Kerry Davis took up the two-year post in August and has been busy raising her profile in the university.

"I am aware that other universities are watching carefully to see how I do," she said. "This is very much a pioneering move."

As well as inviting individual staff and students to speak to her about greener and healthier travel plans, she is also targeting particular groups.

"I have analysed who has car park permits and noticed that 214 people drive in from the small town of Wymondham - which is just outside Norwich," she said. "It costs these staff and students about £45 a week to drive in, and I am writing to them to ask if they would like to change their method of travel."

She said that Wymondham had an excellent bus service and she would also be encouraging car pooling.

In June, UEA launched a car club, aimed at staff and students who require only the occasional use of a car for work and yet still drive in. "I will be advising people to use the university car for the occasional trips, which will be paid for by their department, and travel to work in a greener way," Ms Davis said.

Her post is funded by the European Union through its Civitas programme.

This is a Europe-wide initiative designed to promote cleaner and greener transport in cities. Norfolk County Council, Norwich City Council and the university have all signed up to the initiative.

With car-parking charges and greener transport policies rising up the agenda for universities, Ms Davis could offer a way forward. "UEA does not give students living in residential halls car-parking spaces at the university," she said. "Some students were worried about this. But when they found out that there is a 24-hour, regular bus service covering the two miles between the city and university campus they were reassured."

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