Luton students pedal their way to fitness for free

Students at the University of Bedfordshire will break for the Christmas holidays in better shape after taking advantage of a new recycled bike scheme to get them to and from campus.

A total of 25 repaired bikes have been loaned out free of charge in the scheme’s first term. The initiative forms part of the Active Lives, Healthy People project by sustainable transport charity Sustrans to encourage people across Luton to walk and cycle their way to a healthier lifestyle.

Project coordinator Chris Wilkinson said: “The vast majority of students live an easy bike ride from campus which makes cycling the most convenient and healthiest way to get to and from their lectures. Everyone who has joined this scheme has been really pleased with their new bike and we hope to continue helping out many more students in the New Year.”

Students can keep the bikes, for up to three years, on completion of a four-hour cycle training session delivered in partnership with Luton Borough Council Cycle Training team.

Haider Al-Khateeb, an international PhD student from Iraq, said: “I can’t afford to purchase a bike and using a Sustrans bike means that I can cycle during my time here at university and then return the bike for another student to use. I cycle to university and now have the freedom to visit places by bike outside of Luton.”

Sustrans has also worked with the university on its new staff travel plan and led its first Health Walk for staff on Friday (December 5), giving staff the chance to get some fresh air and exercise during their lunch hours. This followed a staff travel survey last month, which found that 16 per cent of staff walked and one per cent cycled journeys up to five miles from campus.

Sarah Wells, the University’s Energy and Transport Officer, said: “It’s great to have Sustrans on our doorstep – we were able to incorporate active travel related questions into our staff travel survey and hope that this will really get staff thinking about the health-related benefits of walking or cycling to work.”

Sustrans has also organised diversity walks around Luton to raise students’ awareness of different cultures and religions in the town and for them to discover places to eat, drink and shop.

For more information on Active Lives, Healthy People visit

Active Bikes, Healthy People is part of a portfolio of projects being delivered by a Consortium of the leading walking cycling and health organisations and funded through the Big Lottery Fund's Wellbeing Programme. The Programme provides funding to support the development of healthier lifestyles and to improve wellbeing.

Active Lives, Healthy People is delivered on a local level in partnership with Luton Borough Council and Luton Primary Care Trust. Active Lives, Healthy People worked in close partnership with the University of Bedfordshire and to deliver this project.

The Consortium is led by Sustrans and includes British Cycling, CTC, Cycling England, Living Streets, London Cycling Campaign, the National Heart Forum, the National Obesity Forum, the Ramblers’ Association, Campaign for Better Transport and Walk 21. It is delivering a portfolio of projects that will enable 2 million people nationwide to become more physically active by walking or cycling as part of their daily lives by 2012.

The Big Lottery Fund, the largest of the National Lottery good cause distributors, has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since its inception in June 2004.

Sustrans is the UK’s leading sustainable transport charity. Its vision is a world in which people choose to travel in ways that benefit their health and the environment. It is achieving this through innovative but practical solutions to the UK’s transport challenges.

Sustrans’ flagship project, the National Cycle Network, is now around 12,000 miles and runs within one mile of over half the UK population. During 2007 over 354 million trips were made on the Network. It is maintained by a team of 2,400 volunteer Rangers.

Source: Sustrans