Spotlight on Lauren Duff, travel and transport manager at Bournemouth University

How my job helped me to fall in love with cycling
Bournemouth University partakes in Bike Week every year, encouraging staff and students to take up cycling. We spoke to Lauren Duff, travel and transport manager at the Cycle Friendly Employer

Lauren has been working at Bournemouth University for 13 years, progressing to become travel & transport manager.

Every May, Bournemouth University hosts a cycling fair on campus during Bike Week to encourage staff and students to take up cycling. In 2019, Lauren had recently joined the travel & transport team and had the opportunity to be involved in planning the cycling fair which included the launch of an exciting new electric bike scheme for the university.

She had never really cycled before, except as a child, but felt her new job required her to be more involved and excited about cycling. So, during Bike Week, she tried an e-bike and has never looked back.

Lauren thought it would be a chore to cycle to work every day, but once she tried an e-bike, she felt confident and in control. It didn’t take long before Lauren was hooked.

What bike do you ride?

I have a Giant Liv Amiti-E+ which is the best thing I've ever bought! I love having an e-bike and being able to venture further afield than I would have done otherwise.

Favourite places to ride

Dorset is a beautiful place to live and we are very lucky to have incredible cycling and walking routes on our doorstep which can take you for miles along the Jurassic coastline or through the stunning New Forest. I live near the river Stour and have enjoyed many bike rides with my family along the river.

In three words summarise your cycling

New. Liberating. Electric.

Has cycling always been a focus for your work at the university?

Bournemouth University has a wider agenda to tackle the climate and ecological crisis through addressing our organisational carbon footprint. This is supported by our Travel Plan of which the overarching aim is; to enable all campus users to travel as sustainably as possible and to enhance the staff and student experience whilst minimising both the on and off campus environmental impacts of Bournemouth University’s operations.

We are lucky to have some really active women cyclists at Bournemouth University who are paving the way and showing others that it is possible to do the school run by bike, it is possible to cycle and still look professional for work and it can be really beneficial to use your daily commute as a chance to fit exercise into your day.

I really want to focus more on women cycling campaigns in the upcoming academic year as well as parents in general – we also have lots of dads tackling the school run by bike as part of their commute.

How has the university helped to inspire other organisations to follow your lead?

We have a great leadership team who are invested in sustainability at Bournemouth University. It is imperative for any organisation to have support at the very top in order to achieve change. My own colleagues within Estates are always striving for improvements and there is great work being done across the various teams. I am very proud to work in a team that is committed to excellence and passionate about the work we do. 

The introduction of our UNIBUS network in 2016 was a great achievement for Bournemouth University, led by my predecessor and has had a hugely positive impact for both BU and the wider conurbation delivering over one million passenger journeys a year (pre-coronavirus).

We are currently working on a project to deliver improved active travel facilities at our Talbot Campus over the next eighteen months to include new shower and changing rooms, enhancements to existing facilities and upgrading our cycle compounds to be safer and more appealing areas for staff and students to use. 

Working towards the Cycling UK’s Cycle Friendly Employer accreditation scheme and being awarded the Gold standard has been the biggest achievement in my career. Bournemouth University is the first large organisation in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) area to have attained this award and I feel incredibly proud to have led on this

Lauren Duff, travel & transport manager, Bournemouth University

What is your proudest achievement in your career?

Working towards the Cycling UK’s Cycle Friendly Employer accreditation scheme and being awarded the Gold standard has been the biggest achievement in my career. Bournemouth University is the first large organisation in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) area to have attained this award and I feel incredibly proud to have led on this.

What has been the most successful cycling initiative at the university, and why?

Our most popular service is without a doubt the free Bike Doctor service. We have run this for a number of years and both staff and students comment year after year on how invaluable this free bike service is and how important it is for our Bournemouth University community to feel they can have their bike regularly checked to keep it in top condition and safe to use on the roads.

What advice would you give to other women to encourage them to push for more cycling in the workplace?

We have a unique opportunity to really nurture those new cycling habits that have been formed during the pandemic. With people still working from home or slowly returning to the workplace, now is the time to push for better initiatives and better facilities to encourage people to continue those positive cycling habits and not to revert back to their pre-coronavirus commuting behaviours. Keep talking about active travel and pushing for change.

Are there any challenges that might present a barrier for employees to cycle to work? 

Bournemouth University attracts staff and students from across the UK. Whilst many choose to move and live in the area, some may still commute from further afield including the more rural parts of Dorset.

For some, cycling is not really an option and public transport links may not service their area. It is clear that driving will continue to play a part for some of our community but we will continue to promote flexible and multi-modal travel options such as the use of folding bikes which you can take on the bus/train or linking up public transport routes with Beryl bikes (the local bike share scheme provider).

How has becoming a Cycle Friendly Employer changed your current workplace?

The majority of our staff and students have not yet returned to campuses, but I am excited for the new term to start in September when we expect many more people to be on site and can take the opportunity to promote the award alongside reminders of all the great things Bournemouth University are doing to encourage and support cycling.

Do the facilities in place helping employees and students cycle to work/University make for a happier and healthier workplace/place of study?

There is always more that can be done to improve facilities, and we make it a point to consult with our cycling and walking community groups to understand what they would like to see on campus. Surveys and open forum discussions have been key in making sure that what we are delivering, is meeting the needs of the users.

There are strong links between cycling and mental and physical wellbeing. As well as these benefits to the user, cycling helps reduce the number of cars on the roads thereby reducing local road congestion, improving air quality and cutting harmful emissions. This can only be a good thing for the area and for our future.

The cycle infrastructure in Bournemouth is changing rapidly, how do you think this will change cycling to work? 

The work being undertaken by Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole (BCP) in relation to the Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) is going to significantly change the way people travel around the local conurbation. There are a number of routes that will directly benefit the university, with one planned to link our main Talbot Campus with our sports facility at Chapel Gate.

We are thrilled to see a direct route between these two locations that will allow safe, direct and accessible travel for our staff and students needing to make that journey. We are also keen to see the outcomes of the Local Cycling Walking Infrastructure Plan consultation which outlines the councils strategic vision for the area after the TCF works are complete.

Bournemouth University work very closely with BCP as well as other community groups and organisations and it is clear that active travel infrastructure is a priority for everyone. Hopefully, working in collaboration will ensure the best possible outcomes for residents, commuters and visitors to the area.

Become a Cycle Friendly Employer

Becoming a Cycle Friendly Employer can transform your organisation.

It will help you attract and keep the best talent by making commuting by bike easier and stress-free. 

By integrating cycling into your workplace in a positive and simple way, you could achieve the competitive accolade of Cycle Friendly Employer accreditation.

There are just a few simple steps you need to take.