Matthew Says

Sustainable Travel

Hi everyone! Although the weather has deteriorated in the past few weeks, we are now well on our way to summer and this summer there will be a series of exciting moves with regards to travel in Birmingham that I thought it would be useful to update students on.

Clear Air Zone

First of all, on 1st June, Birmingham City Council is introducing a new ‘clean air zone’ that marks an important step in attempting to improve air quality in the city of Birmingham. Casting my mind all the way back to the #BrumBreathes air pollution event that I organised in collaboration with Sustrans in the first term, it is clear that air pollution is a pertinent and urgent issue that must be addressed; it is estimated that upwards of 900 deaths a year in Birmingham are linked to man-made air pollution. The purpose of the clean air zone is to improve air quality in the very centre of Birmingham to discourage the most polluting vehicles from entering the area, in an attempt to reduce the levels of NO2.

But what does the new clean air zone mean for students?

Well from the 1st of June if you have a particularly polluting vehicle and you drive within the clean air zone at any point, you will face a charge.

The Clean Air Zone encompasses all the roads within the A4550 Middleway Ring Road (but the Middleway itself). 

If you drive into the city centre, check whether your vehicle will be charged at or where you can also make online payments.

The council have suggested that they might apply short term exemptions from the charges as people adapt to the new zone, but please check out the website to avoid being caught out and facing a fine.

You might also be entitled to a Government grant to upgrade your vehicle to a less polluting one!

The Clean Air Zone represents an important and welcome step by the City Council to seek to address the dangerously high levels of air pollution in the city. If you have any further questions on this, please feel free to drop me a message or an email!


West Midlands Cycle Hire

Some of you may have noticed some of the bike racks that have begun to pop up around campus in the past couple of weeks. In very exciting news, as part of the wider West Midlands Cycle Hire scheme, the University will be welcoming a fleet of bikes to campus on 24th May. Myself, Imogen (Disabled Students’ Officer) and Charlotte (Welfare and Community Officer) have been delighted to support the introduction of these bikes to campus.

Never will it be so easy to cycle to and from campus and off into the wider city of Birmingham and I am thrilled to have supported and engaged with their introduction. There will be a total of 1,500 bikes in the fleet, eight docking stations across campus and bikes that are available to hire 24/7. These docking stations on campus will be situated at: Old Gym, The Guild, Met and Mat, Tennis Courts, Chamberlain, Pritchatts Park Accommodation Village (and some just off campus as well!).  The docking stations can be found at the purple pins locations on this interactive map.

It costs £1 to unlock a bike and then 5p per minute of cycling after that. To give a better idea of what this means, if you were to cycle for 10 minutes that would be £1.50, 20 minutes would be £2.00 and 30 minutes would be £2.50.

With the cycling ‘superhighway’ (the blue cycle path) heading straight from campus to the city centre, I am really hoping this will encourage students to have fun, exercise and travel sustainably all at once. Please cycle safely and be sure to wear a helmet!

To find out more about the bikes in general, please click here or drop me a message.


National Express Portal

Another fantastic step for sustainable travel at the University has been a project that Charlotte (Welfare and Community Officer) and Jules (Education Officer) have been working on, in collaboration with National Express and the University. By following this bespoke portal and registering it is now possible to get reduced bus ticket fares in the local Birmingham area:

The portal offers a range of weekly, monthly and termly and yearly passes specifically for students. If you are a regular user of public transport, check out the range of options for the summer break and the new academic year.

Although National Express do also run national coaches, these discounts will only be for the local bus service.


Voi Scooters

The Voi e-scooters have been available to hire in Selly Oak and wider Birmingham for some time now and they represent a fun and sustainable method of travel!

From the end of May, it will now be possible to travel on Voi scooters on parts of campus and the Vale, which is something myself and Imogen have been consulted on. While it will not be possible to travel through the Green Heart or fully pedestrianised areas on campus, we hope this development will encourage students to travel sustainably via e-scooters! For an idea where you will be able to use scooters on campus please consult this map.

As our campus has high levels of pedestrian traffic and busy buildings, Voi parking will be at fourteen bays across our site (see blue pins on the interactive map). The e-scooters are vehicles and are for riding on the roads, as a result, on campus access will be restricted in busy pedestrian-only areas, and there will be speed limits on busy routes shared by pedestrians, cyclists and scooter riders. Voi encourage users to refresh their road knowledge here. It goes without saying that it is important to travel safely on these e-scooters.  To encourage wearing a helmet, Voi are offering savings on scooter hire with helmet selfies! For more information, please click here.

Please remember that when you leave the scooter, you make sure it is not restricting or blocking a pavement, as this can be very difficult for those with accessibility issues. I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on the general introduction of e-scooters to Birmingham and if you would like to reach out to our disabled students’ officer regarding any concerns, please drop Imogen an email (


An important and ever present caveat to add to this news is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While sustainable travel is important for reducing CO2 emissions and local air pollution, we remain in the midst of a pandemic, so please only travel on public transport when you feel safe and when it is advised by the government.

For more info about how to travel sustainably and safely in Birmingham, please check out the sustainability travel guide produced in collaboration with the University for Go Green Week 2021. Any further questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch with myself (, the University’s Sustainable Travel Officer, Edward ( or Imogen (

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