For many students starting their journey through NTU, how to get about once they arrive in Nottingham probably isn’t that high on their list of things to worry about. Certainly for me, back in the mists of time when I started at Uni I was far more interested in discovering my local Metal bands than researching bus timetables or bike routes. Until that is, about three weeks into my first term I realised that my buying a daily return bus ticket was shredding my bank balance faster than Kirk Hammett shreds his Metallica solos, and I couldn’t even comprehend affording a car!
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them” – Ernest Hemingway
So, I managed to cobble together enough cash to buy my housemates spare road bike, and a week later I was cruising along the bikepath to Campus, bathed by the late summer sun, wind rushing through my shoulder length perm, Pantera on my headphones. Glorious. Until, however, just as Phil Anselmo hits the octave at the end of Cemetery Gates, I managed to lose the front wheel on some loose gravel and slide headlong into the box hedge at the front of the Vice Chancellors offices. Undeterred, I picked myself up, recovered my Discman and aviator shades, dusted down my leather trousers and without even the slightest hint of embarrassment swung my leg over my new steed and prepared to ride off into the sunset. My smooth exit was interrupted abruptly by the fact that the front wheel refused to turn, no matter how much I tried, the damn thing would not move. Faced with a four mile walk carrying my newly purchased bicycle, my mood began to sour and I began the trudge home. By the time I reached the town centre I was, predictably, sweating the proverbial cobs and had decided that riding a bike was infinitely preferable to carrying one, so took the decision to drop into the local bike shop and see about getting the beast reanimated…
I seem to recall the shop in question had (at least one) poster of a yellow jersey clad Lance Armstrong in the window, and numerous bikes with four figure price tags hanging from the walls. My entry was something akin to a scene from a western movie, where the out of towner walks into a bar, the piano stops playing and everyone turns to look. Obviously not the correct type of cyclist, I was begrudgingly quoted an extortionate amount for a repair, and unable to afford it I left, still carrying my bloody bike. I hauled its corpse the half mile back to my digs (yes it’s that long ago, we still called them digs) and slung it in the shed, where it remained until the summer term, when a mate who was keen on road cycling, and wore tight shorts and a funny cap, took it out and within five minutes had it up and running, reanimation compete, the beast lived again, and all it cost was a two pints of snakebite and black!
So, you may be thinking why I’m telling you this story? Because that experience directly influences the way we operate Push Forward here at NTU today.
Cycling is a great way to get around. Simple as that. Its sustainable, cost effective, and it benefits both the environment and your health, plus it’s a wonderful way to explore the city and get off the between track, especially if you’re new to a place.
Above all we want cycling to be a viable transport choice for students and staff here at NTU. Push Forward started life as the Ucycle Project in 2010, with a bike hire scheme to facilitate cheap and easy cycling for people who would otherwise have been precluded from cycling by financial or geographical constraints. Since then we’ve grown into a fully functioning bike workshop and shop, located in the City Students Union Building and open on Mondays and Wednesdays, offering quick, low cost servicing, parts, accessories and even maintenance classes to help keep people on two wheels. We wanted to work from the standpoint that for the majority of people cycling is simply about being a fast moving pedestrian (in the words of the legendary Mikael Colville-Andersen), not about being part of a sports scene or sub-culture.
We want cycling to be accessible, inclusive and to represent the awesome diversity we have here at NTU.
We still operate a hire bike scheme, and have bike available year round on long term loan. It costs £35 per year, or £20 per term, and everyone pays a £60 deposit. Included in the price you get a lock, lights and all your maintenance.
As part of NTU, We also work with the University estates department, Nottingham City Council and other key stakeholders and partners to help develop the cycling infrastructure across NTU and the greater Nottingham Area.
-Thank you to David Hobday, who is a Sustainable Transport Officer in the NTU Environment Team, for writing this blog post!
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