Wednesday 31 August 2016

Alexandra Asvestopoulou

A Northampton sixth-form student is working with her local university to make life better for cyclists in the town.

Alexandra Asvestopoulou has been awarded a Nuffield Research Placement, which offers sixth formers the chance to work on university research projects during the summer.

The Northampton School for Girls pupil spent the summer researching the quality and connectivity of Northampton’s cycling facilities, in particular cycle routes to and from the railway station, town centre and University’s two campuses.

Her findings will tie in with research on cycling commuting being carried out by the University of Northampton’s Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences – the results of which could be used by Northamptonshire County Council to make improvements to the network.

Alexandra’s work has been supervised by Dr Joanna Wright and Dr Janet Jackson, from the University of Northampton’s Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences.

Dr Wright said: “I’m a keen cyclist and wanted to see what the infrastructure was like across the town, as cycling maps just don’t show what cyclists really need to see.

“It’s a big job and so it has been a real help to have Alex mapping the features of  cycle routes in the town, using GPS satellite units, and drawing a map of the facilities and routes using industry standard mapping software.

“This is the same software our students learn to use in Geography and Environmental Science, which is part of improving their career opportunities and employability skills. So it’s great to be able to offer this kind of experience to Alexandra.”

Alexandra, who has received a bursary to carry out her work, said: “In the main, Northampton is built on fairly flat land, or hills with low gradients, so it should be a great place to cycle around. Add in the health and environmental benefits of cycling and it’s clear to me the town should have more cyclists than it does.

“If we can improve the cycling infrastructure I am sure more people would commute on their bikes, but there’s plenty of improvements needed. During my research I came across cycle paths that stop abruptly or are just too narrow to be used, and there’s also an issue with the bike parking facilities.

“Hopefully my research and that of the University will lead to a better experience for all cyclists in Northampton in the future.”

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