Go Active, Go Explore; Go St Andrews

On the 24th and 25th of April Go St Andrews held its launch event and tour of St Andrews University’s campus. Go St Andrews is a new hub for sustainable transport information in and around St Andrews. This initiative is a collaboration between Fife Council, Transport Scotland, Transition University of St Andrews, BID St Andrews, and partners. The website aims to deliver clear and concise information on all the sustainable transport options in and around St Andrews, aiming to build up a community of people who choose to take modes of transport that will decrease their carbon footprint.

On the 24th April representatives from Sustrans, Cycle Solutions, Cycling UK Scotland, Chariots of Hire, Cyclepath, E-Car, Liftshare, St Andrews Park Run, Transition University of St Andrews, St Andrews Space for Cycling and Cycle Fife came to Market Street to increase awareness of the different resources available to them across the town and gown. Due to high winds we had to shut up earlier than expected, however we were pleased by the encouraging amount of people who came to ask questions and give us suggestions of what they would like to see happen in St Andrews.

As a result of the launch of Go St Andrews we hope to see an increase in the number of people who are interested in taking different forms of transport to reduce their impact on the environment and those who are aware of the huge variety of options available to them in and around St Andrews. The website covers areas including walking, running, cycling, carshare, E – Car, buses, trains and fun ideas for local day trips. If you see something missing or would like a new tab opened please get in touch with your ideas.

A huge congratulations to the team at Transition St Andrews University and everyone else involved who have been working hard over the past couple of months to launch this fantastic new website. Go check it out now at http://www.gostandrews.org/.

If you have any questions about transport in and around St Andrews please do not hesitate to contact us.

Go Active, Go Explore; Go St Andrews.

F: facebook.com/gostandrews/

T: twitter.com/gostandrews

Crossing Scotland in an Electric Car: a How-to Guide

George King, from the University’s Environment Team, describes his experience of driving an electric car on a long distance journey. The Environment Team strive to improve the sustainability agenda across the University and St Andrews.

As an occasional driver (and one who doesn’t own a car) the prospect of driving an electric car is always exciting. Previous excursions with E-Car St Andrews have been limited to Fife to avoid the need for a re-charge. However this time I decided to venture further afield – heading west to Loch Lomond – with a group of friends in tow.

You can hire electric cars and vans across St Andrews, at affordable pay-as-you-go rates

You can hire electric cars and vans across St Andrews, at affordable pay-as-you-go rates

For those who have never set foot in an electric car (aka electric vehicles, or ‘EVs’ for short) there are a few things to consider:

  1. No jangling keys. Instead you use your membership card (credit card sized) as a key to open the car. Inside the EV there is a thicker plastic card key, which you need to insert before you press the ‘start/stop’ button. All silently of course.
  2. There are no gears. Unlike most cars in the UK, there is no need for a manual transmission and instead EVs behave like automatics. Put it into ‘Drive’ and you’re good to go.
  3. You can re-charge the vehicle in various places across Scotland and the UK. Coverage of charging points is surprisingly good and with Charge Your Car (CYC) covering 99% of them you’re sure to find somewhere to plug in. It is worth noting that charging is also free.
  4. Planning is key. As we found out planning your route is essential for longer journeys to ensure you reach a charging point in time to recharge the batteries.

For our journey we set off from St Andrews, picking up a friend in Anstruther on the way, and decided to take the slightly longer route via the Forth Road Bridge and Glasgow to put the car to the test.

We knew in advance that we couldn’t make it to our destination without charging but rather than planning charge stops beforehand, we  took the impromptu method – using the CYC app to locate a charging point, on the way.

Waiting for the last bit of charge

Almost there – just 20 more minutes for this charge in Bathgate

Once the range of the EV dropped to 15 miles the ‘range anxiety’ started to kick in, we decided it was time to look for a charger as soon as we could. After a brief navigation mishap (a pessimist may say ‘lost’) we found ourselves a vacant charger. Stopping at Bathgate for an hour, we were able leave the car to charge and use the time productively, shopping for our tea and weekend supplies while we waited.

Back on the road again, we soon arrived at our friend’s flat in Balloch, where we were staying for the weekend. It was then a matter of dropping the car off at a local point, 1 mile from the flat, to re-charge overnight.

Setting out bright and early the next morning we headed for the summit of Ben Lomond in the sunshine, struggling at first with the gradient and then, believe it or not, with the heat.

Enjoying the view from the summit of Ben Lomond

Enjoying the view from the summit of Ben Lomond

After lunch a-top the Ben, we completed the circuit route, managing a swim in Loch Lomond and a pint at a local pub before the day’s end.

On the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond

We found a lovely secluded beach on the shore of Loch Lomond

The next day we had to say our goodbyes and planned our route back to St Andrews in the EV. For the return journey, we decided to go a more direct route and to charge in two short 20 minute bursts – in Stirling and Kinross. Learning from our previous mistakes we found both charging points without difficulty, giving us a brief chance to explore the outskirts of Stirling and to grab a coffee on the banks of Loch Leven.

Over the whole weekend we travelled a total of 216 miles, charged 4 times (including one overnight charge) and spent around 8 hours on the road or charging.

Our round trip route. Google predicts this round trip would take almost 6 hours in a conventional car

Our round trip route. Google predicts this round trip would take almost 6 hours in a conventional car

Although it didn’t always go to plan (when we had one), the weekend was a success and the EV certainly made the trip even more memorable – all for the right reasons.

It won’t be long before we plan our next low carbon getaway; let’s just hope another heatwave decides to join us again next time.

Park and pedal – Guardbridge to St Andrews

Everyone is familiar with the benefits of regular exercise. Most obviously, improved cardiovascular fitness, better muscle tone and increased fat burning potential. Not to mention reducing stress and fighting off low mood with those post-exercise feel good endorphins.

It was with these points in mind that I decided to take advantage of Transition’s park and pedal scheme for the duration of the Guardbridge road closure.

For those not in the know, Transition have provided car parking spaces, a new bike shelter and hire bikes at Guardbridge to allow staff, students and members of the public travelling from Dundee to avoid the diversion and complete the Guardbridge to St Andrews leg of their journey by bike.

More information on the park and pedal scheme can be found on the Sustainability section of the website.

I can’t deny that I did have initial reservations, so I made a deal with myself to try it for a week and go back to driving if I really didn’t like it.

One week in and I am pleased to report that I have really enjoyed commuting by bike and plan to continue to do so for the remainder of the road closure (and maybe beyond).

To encourage others to give it a go, I’ve addressed some of my initial concerns below.

park-and-pedal-2

Navigation

This was my primary concern since I had never used the cycle path between Guardbridge and St Andrews before.

Sustrans, the charity responsible for the National Cycle Network, have very clear maps of all major UK cycle paths on their website along with a wealth of cycling related resources that I found very helpful.

For those who are still unsure, Transition are running a series of led rides from Guardbridge to St Andrews for the duration of the road closure. These are free and open to all – so absolutely no excuses!

Energy levels

I was concerned that getting up early and exercising before work (a previously foreign concept to me) would contribute to my usual post-lunch energy slump.

In practice, however, I have found the opposite to be true. Not only do I arrive at the office refreshed and motivated, my energy levels are generally higher throughout the day. The cycle back to Guardbridge in the evening has yet to feel like a struggle and is, in fact, great for blowing away the cobwebs after sitting at my desk all day.

General hassle

The thought of having to pack a bag with my work clothes every morning did initially make me baulk. However, I was forgetting that I normally pack a gym bag every morning and this task was no more onerous.

This leads on to a separate and fairly self-explanatory point about being able to forgo the gym for exercise in the fresh air with a lovely view.

The drawbacks

The only major drawback I’ve experienced is a mild case of helmet hair. Of course, if you decide to take advantage of the University’s shower facilities this will not be of concern to you. Luckily, my team are very encouraging and have promised not to discuss my hair for the next eight weeks.

In sum, I’d encourage everyone to give the park and pedal a shot. I challenge you to try it for a week and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Words by Felicity Wild, digital communications team.

For enquiries, contact transition@st-andrews.ac.uk or tel 01334 46 4000

Staff Bike to Work and bag a free Breakfast

Yesterday saw around 30 members of staff from the University cycle to work; coming from various locations, some near and others from afar. The Bike to Work Breakfast was hosted a week ahead of national Cycle to Work Day to coincide with Physical Fitness week, part of the University’s Wellbeing calendar.

As shown in these two maps (below), 18 staff came from outwith St Andrews and across Fife, the furthest travelling over 15 miles from Ladybank and others taking part in a “park and cycle”, parking at Guardbridge and cycling the rest of the way to St Andrews along the cycle path.

staff bike to work breakfast

Maps showing the distance cycled on Thursday morning

 

Not only were they rewarded with some Scottish sunshine and for their efforts, a free (and healthy!) breakfast was provided by the Environment Team, which was served in John Burnett Hall.

Staff enjoy their free breakfast

Staff enjoy their free breakfast

 

On top of this Jim, from the St Andrews Bike Pool (below), provided a helping hand to fix any minor issues with the bikes.

 

Jim lends a helping hand to fix staff bikes

Jim lends a helping hand to fix staff bikes

And temporary bike racks were provided to cope with the demand from our cyclists. This year the Environment Team has helped to install 270 new cycle parking spaces across St Andrews.11949616_10155950715725494_2123367270_n

In total 315 miles were covered by staff which equates to 70kg of carbon dioxide – enough electricity to power an LCD TV continuously for 17 days! Well done everyone!

7 easy ways to get active this summer

get active headerWith summer well on it’s way, and better weather (hopefully!) just round the corner, it’s the perfect chance to step away from the car keys in favour of walking or cycling. This not only reduces your carbon emissions, but getting active also has great mental and physical health benefits. It can be a challenge to break the habit at first, so here are some tips to help get you moving….

1. Make it social

Going it alone can be a bit daunting, so why not use a walk or cycle as an opportunity to meet up with friends? Instead of sitting in a cafe, get your drinks “to-go” and head for a walk around the park to catch up. It’s much better for you, and besides, who wants to sit indoors when the sun is shining?

2. Hop off early

If your destination is too far to walk or cycle, taking the bus and getting off a few stops early is a great first step. The idea of tackling long distances might be off-putting, but using public transport for part of your journey is much easier to manage – you can always increase your distance later on!

3. Use your lunch hour

Get moving and get away from your desk to help de-stress, rest your eyes from the glare of the screen, and energise yourself for the rest of the afternoon. Sitting for long periods of time isn’t good for your health, so why not invite your colleagues on a lunchtime stroll to walk off your lunch and do a bit of team bonding?

4. Be a shutterbug

If it’s hard to motivate yourself to get walking or cycling without a purpose to your journey, take along your camera and turn it into a photography project. InstaMeets take place all over the world, encouraging people to get together to explore their environment creatively. Participating in a Weekend Hashtag Project is a great way to challenge yourself, get inspired, and update your Instagram feed in the process.

5. Use your tech

If you have a pedometer, activity band, or even just an app on your phone, you can keep track of the steps you’ve taken, calories you’ve burned, and some even record your heart rate. Monitoring your progress like this can give you the boost you need to keep going on a streak of activity, and should help you recognise your achievements, motivating you to keep active in your day-to-day life!

6. Keep up with what’s on

A walk or cycle can make for a fun day out, and there are plenty of organised events that you can get involved in, especially with Bike Week taking place from 13th-21st June. Check out Bike Events Scotland for more information about events in your area.

7. Commit to a good cause

If you need some motivation, sign yourself up for a sponsored walk or charity cycle to give yourself a goal to work towards. The money you raise will be great incentive to keep going, and will be helping out a worthy cause. Pedal for Scotland have a variety of rides organised for September – so you’ll have plenty of time to get training!

 

Image: Walk and cycle sign