The UI bus park becomes a hive before the day breaks fully whenever the University is in session. The crowd is usually made up of different groups of people with different transportation goals: it usually begins with UI students trying to meet up for a 7 am class or early activities, then as the day begins to break, more students, including uniformed ones whose schools are on the university campus, staff (academic and non-academic), and people whose businesses are on the campus begin to join the crowd.
One thing that unites these people–right from when the first potential passengers get to the bus park till when the numbers begin to increase–is the struggle to get a cab or tricycle on time as there are usually fewer vehicles available compared to the number of people waiting. So, each morning, the sight of people waiting endlessly for vehicles to arrive, the fight and competition to get on one first, and the long queue of people waiting for tricycles at the other end of the park are not rare. For other students whose faculties are relatively far from the School Area, like the Faculty of Agric and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, their struggles are often doubled as many drivers do not like to ply that route.
Students living on campus i.e. residing in the Halls of Residence do not have it easier either, especially if their faculties are far from their halls. One thing is clear, the transportation system is stressful and it affects the majority of people in the university. Is it not high time the University community started exploring suitable options?
Cycling as an Option
When considering other transportation options, the means of transportation officially allowed on campus should be taken into account. With the exclusion of bikes that have been banned, it is high time cycling was encouraged and bicycles join cars and tricycles as one of the most used means of transportation on campus as it is the most suitable choice for numerous reasons, the first being its cost-effectiveness. While it would seem out of place for a student to acquire a tricycle for personal transportation, a car is out of the financial range of many, leaving bicycles as a way cheaper option. Also, since bicycles do not require any fuel other than human effort and the cost of maintaining them is low, encouraging cycling on campus means that students and other people on campus spend less money on transportation.
The stress that comes with worrying about getting late due to the constant unavailability of vehicles and the race and struggle among people on campus to board one will lessen drastically if all one has to do is hop on their bicycle and ride to their destination on campus. In a way, this impacts the health positively as undergoing less stress contributes to the improvement of general health and well-being. Also, because cycling is an aerobic activity, it becomes a way for students to gain more health and physical benefits, one of which is body fitness as many students do not exercise due to the amount of time they are required to spend on academic activities which mostly involve sitting.
There is also the environmental health angle to cycling which most people do not consider when the discussion in favour of encouraging cycling arises. Air pollution is common with vehicles that use fuel making them one of the greatest sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, like carbon dioxide. These gas emissions have damaging effects on the environment such as influencing unfavourable climate change, global warming, and certain environmental disasters. All these, in turn, pose problems to human health and existence in general. Nigeria, being a country with many vehicles, is not exempted from gas emissions and their effects. In fact, the country signed the 2015 Paris Agreement aimed at tackling climate change and pledged to reduce its gas emissions by 20 per cent by the year 2030. President Muhammadu Buhari, at the 2021 Cop26 climate talk in Glasgow, announced the country’s plan to meet the net-zero gas emission by 2060.
The consequent effects of greenhouse gas emissions take place in any environment where there are vehicles and each one, regardless of the size or condition, is an agent of air pollution. Encouraging cycling in the University of Ibadan becomes a way of getting people to play their part in reducing gas emissions on campus as bicycles do not emit carbon dioxide, which is also a way of contributing to Nigeria’s pledge to reduce gas emissions.