Cycling for sustainability

Man on bike

Adam Mitchell, the Marketing Manager for Lancaster University Management School, is undertaking a grand cycling challenge, in order to raise awareness of the carbon emission impact of business travel.

Greenhouse gas emissions from travel constitute 27% of emissions in the United Kingdom (UK Government, 2019) and also make up a large percentage of emissions for Lancaster University. Over the last two years, a lack of travel due to the pandemic has given us all the time to reflect on how much we might travel in the future for business purposes. And if we plan to travel, how we make journeys also affect the greenhouse gas profile of travel.

At the end of June 2022, Adam is going to attend the EFMD Marketing, External and Alumni Relations conference at Nyenrode University, Breukelen in the Netherlands and wanted to attend in the lowest carbon way possible.

The scenarios below provide the carbon emissions for the four potential journey options that Adam could make.

  • Scenario 1: Train to Manchester airport, fly to Amsterdam, train to Breukelen - 196.2kg CO2 equivalent
  • Scenario 2: Train to London, train to Amsterdam, train to Breukelen - 33.9kg CO2 equivalent
  • Scenario 3: Cycle to Newcastle, ferry to Ijmuiden, cycle to Breukelen - 18.5kg CO2 equivalent
  • Scenario 4: Cycle to Hull, ferry to Rotterdam, cycle to Breukelen - 13.4kg CO2 equivalent

The carbon emissions of the four travel scenarios have been used to determine the most environmentally friendly route. For reference, driving from Lancaster to Manchester Airport would release around 26 kg CO2 equivalent – more than the cycle-ferry options in total.

Adam has decided to go with the cycle-ferry-cycle option (scenario 4), partly because he is a keen cyclist and likes the challenge that this choice represents but also because the journey will highlight the sustainability of different travel modes, and hopefully encourage others to think more sustainably when making travel decisions. Adam is confident that he can successfully undertake the cycle-ferry-cycle journey and is very much looking forward to an adventure on this scale. He is always keen to cycle the 30km between his home and work as it gives him the opportunity to integrate something he loves into the working day.

“I’m excited about this initiative for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’m looking forward to the opportunity of raising awareness of green travel for work and discovering, first-hand, some of the practical challenges around this. The opportunity of speaking at the conference will hopefully help delegates reflect on their own future travel options. Secondly, I’m looking forward to the physical task of covering the 280km between Lancaster and Breukelen (and back again), made all the more difficult through carrying my own luggage.”

He is also keen to draw attention to making more sustainable travel choices – when it is often cheaper to take a plane rather than a train: it is important that we all begin to consider the carbon emissions of our travel choices; especially as global warming remains an existential threat for humanity. You can explore the University’s sustainable travel guidance to learn more about travel options and how you can reduce your travel carbon footprint. A carbon data dashboard is also available to departments giving access to real-time information based on past trips within their areas.

Adam will be documenting the journey and the practicalities of it via social media – you can follow this on Twitter at @Adam78Mitchell. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that there’s no headwind!

Back to News