Unite signs up to Bristol cycling programme to help improve health and environmental impact for whole community

It’s official – various studies over the years have shown that cycling promotes better wellbeing[1], promotes better lung health[2] and cuts heart disease and cancer risks[3].

And it contributes to reducing our carbon impact, so it’s also better for the environment than travelling by car or motorcycle. That’s why promoting more sustainable and healthy transport options for our students and our staff is important to us at Unite Students.

We actively encourage staff to cycle, where they can, and provide very few, if any, car parking spaces at most of our student properties. Why? Because that’s the right thing to do for our health, the health of the wider communities we operate in, and the environment.

We strive to ensure our impact is a positive one in communities across the UK, and we work with local charities, businesses and councils to help us achieve that aim. Most recently, we’ve signed up to support the CyclingWorks programme in Bristol, our home city.

After a similar project already achieved success in London, CyclingWorks Bristol aims to improve cycling routes for people living in Bristol, promoting healthier and safer cycling around the city for commuters, families, and tourists. The project aims to deliver two continuous and protected bike lanes through the city, one running East-to-West, and the other North-to-South. They also want to install secure overnight bike storage and rental at Bristol’s park and ride locations, as well as extra secure cycle parking across Bristol.

As a local business, adding our voice to the project demonstrates our commitment to improving safety and commuting conditions for all, especially our employees who we want to encourage to travel in an eco-friendly way.

Our Chief Financial Officer, Joe Lister, an avid cyclist who also Chairs Unite’s Sustainability Panel, said:

“As a responsible business we are always looking for ways we can work with our local communities to create positive and sustainable changes that benefit everyone.

“Cycling and walking are just two ways we can take individual responsibility for our carbon footprint. It’s right that as a local business, we encourage people to commute in an environmentally friendly and healthy way and help make those routes as safe as possible."

We are already involved in various projects around the UK to give our students and people healthier and more sustainable options when it comes to transport.

We include safe and secure bike stores at most of our properties, encouraging our students to cycle to and from university.

We also partner with the Bike Project, a London charity that collects, refurbishes and donates unused bikes to refugees in the city, as well as providing them with safety equipment and safety training.

Any students who live with us are offered a 10% discount on a selection of bikes that the Bike Project sells through an online store, shipping all over the country.

We have also undergone a large clean-up project in Birmingham around our newly opened property, Staniforth House. Working with the University of Birmingham, a team of volunteers cleared the towpath, removing old bikes, tyres and rubbish from both the path and the canal itself, making a more sustainable and picturesque route to and from university for our students, as well as making it a safer space for the whole community  to enjoy.

When we opened our newest property in Bristol in 2018, Brunel House, we included a natural green space in the outside area to increase the biodiversity within the city as well as making a natural space for students to enjoy, supporting general mental health and wellbeing. The plans for this space were created in collaboration with the RSPB.