Please send your letters to writer Ruth Taylor; email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com; or send them by post to: The Reporter, Employee Communications team, Room 12.72, E C Stoner Building.
All letters will be considered for publication. We will not as a rule publish 'round robin' letters, letters that have been published elsewhere or letters that have also been sent to University colleagues for action. Letters may be cut (for space) and we will indicate where this has happened. If writers have asked questions, we will attempt to answer them. If they assert things we know to be untrue, we may add an editor’s note.
SAFER CYCLING IN LEEDS
(from Professor Chris Inglehearn, Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine)
Congratulations and thanks to Leeds University for taking a first tentative step towards encouraging more people to leave their cars at home and bike to work.
I have often thought that if the government were more serious about the cycling agenda they’d remove the tax on bikes. This new scheme does in effect achieve that, albeit rather indirectly.
Now I have a lovely new bike and am enjoying exploring the various routes into north Leeds from Wharfedale and weekend rides on Ilkley Moor. Let’s hope that other businesses around the city see the success of the scheme and follow suit.
But if we’re honest about it, money is only one disincentive to cycling in Leeds. I have commuted regularly by bike through several other large cities, but I’d have to say that Leeds is the most threatening and unpleasant I have experienced. The road surfaces are poor, the cycle lanes are useless, and car drivers generally drive as though cyclists don’t exist. In the end it is only the hardy few who do brave the city centre on two wheels.
So can I suggest that the University goes a step further and uses its influence with the council to encourage them to review provision for cyclists in a meaningful way.
The London Evening Standard is currently running a safer cycling campaign, with suggestions such as the creation of real cycle networks; segregating cycle lanes; cycle training for all children and any adults who want it; fitting special cyclist safety mirrors to HGVs; and the enforcement of advance stop-lines for bikes at traffic lights.
Leeds City Council could really put itself at the green forefront by adopting these policies. Only then I think, will the streets of Leeds begin to feel safe enough for cycling to be considered a serious commuting alternative.
SECURE BIKE LOCKERS NEEDED
(from Mary Kimble, Institute for Transport Studies)
As an eager participant of the ‘cycle to work’ scheme, I must congratulate the University and Edinburgh Cycle Co-operative for the ease with which I was able to choose a bike - especially ordering a model they don’t normally carry - and have all my paperwork processed.
The bike is a dream, much nicer than I could have bought on my own, and I enjoy riding it each day.
However, once I arrive at the University I need secure out-of-sight cycle parking, as this is an expensive bike. I am very surprised that the University did not also put money into new cycle lockers to come on line in conjunction with the cycle scheme.
While I am told some rough plans are being considered for new lockers, these cycle lockers need to be fit for purpose. The most popular style of commuter/hybrid bike will not fit in the current lockers, and sadly my new bike will not fit either.
Reply from Steffi Hasse, transport
Prior to the ‘cycle to work’ scheme, 20 new bike lockers were installed following consultation with the appropriate departments. The same style lockers were purchased for several reasons: space, security, and cost, and to maintain visual appearance with the already existing ones.
All of the lockers have been taken up quickly and others will be installed shortly. Also, I advise cyclists to secure their bicycle with gold-rated locks; see www.soldsecure.com/leisure.htm for details.
The money we spend on the ‘cycle to work’ scheme, which has now been doubled to£60,000, will be recovered so it does not count as an expense as bike lockers would.
CYCLE TO WORK SCHEME
(from Dr Ian Carr, Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine)
As a keen cyclist I was glad to hear about the ‘cycle to work’ scheme run by the University and so bought a folding bike to ride to work on.
However I was somewhat surprised to find that other bike shops in Leeds do not seem to know anything about the scheme. The fact that only one shop was involved meant that I could not shop around or haggle a cheaper price.
I was also astonished that while I have to get numerous quotes for orders of a few thousand pounds, it seems the University has given £30k of trade to a single shop and did not contact other shops to obtain a more favourable contract. Even shops that have had a long history of supporting various University schemes seem to have been left in the dark.
Could you explain why this scheme was not offered to other shops in the area?
Reply from Richard Clarke, senior contracts
The University began work on the cycle to work scheme in early 2006. We felt that supplier selection was key to giving the University confidence the scheme would be a success. After fact-finding enquiries with other universities, we established which suppliers had a proven track record of implementing successful schemes and invited these companies to deliver a presentation.
The preferred supplier was selected according to the following criteria: experience of operating a ‘cycle to work’ scheme; ease of administration; range of products; convenience and quality of the proposed outlet; and added benefits.
We decided to appoint Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative for a one-year period with the option to extend after this period. This was not a reflection on the quality and reputation of other local suppliers - who could undoubtedly meet some of our requirements - but may not have offered the benefit of any experience of ‘cycle to work’, which we required for this initial appointment.
(from Freyja McTurk, Clinical Trials Research Unit)
It is my understanding that we have all been encouraged to recycle as much as possible in order to minimise waste.
I am therefore confused that this morning [22 March] every person in my office (and presumably everyone at the University) received individually addressed envelopes containing glossy flyers advertising the Suppliers Exhibition.
Surely there could have been a more environmentally friendly way of advertising this event? Perhaps ensuring that each department has one poster displaying the event, or even better, notification by email?
It’s rather frustrating to be asked to conscientiously recycle, while at the same time receiving what is basically junk mail through the internal post!
Reply from Tim Brannon, head of
The Suppliers Exhibition is an annual event that has grown in popularity year on year since its inception in 2001, and is widely recognised by suppliers as one of the best within the higher education sector.
Its continued success is a direct result of adhering to a ‘tried and tested’ format. It’s important for us and our suppliers that we get enough staff to support the event to justify the suppliers’ attendance fees and their costs for the day. As such, the personalised invitation is very much a part of attracting sufficient staff numbers.
I appreciate that this could be done via email - and indeed electronic reminders were sent out - but not everyone sees or responds to emails. The majority of staff who attended the event brought their invitation with them, demonstrating that it was a very effective form of promotion.