Ingredients for a travel plan
CIVITAS ARCHIMEDES, 13.06.2012
The City of Aalborg has formulated a set of recommendations for local authorities and companies who want to take up commuter travel plans. They are based on seven travel plans the city implemented and evaluated in co-operation with local companies as part of the CIVITAS ARCHIMEDES project.
The evaluation of the commuter travel plans in Aalborg shows that in general, awareness of greener transport modes increased at the involved companies. Three of the participating companies have an awareness level of the green commuter plans above 50 percent among their employees.
A change in travel behaviour is more difficult to observe. In many cases the modal split has changed towards greener modes after implementation of the commuter plan. It is however hard to determine if this is a direct effect of the commuter plan or other factors.
Among all companies there is a higher level of awareness around the "physical" initiatives such as electric bikes, company bikes, bike pump stations etc. than around the information campaigns and other behavioural initiatives. Especially the electric bike initiative has proven to be successful, even though not many employees have had the chance to try these bikes - there could be a potential for modal shifts.
Some of the participating companies already have a relatively "green" commuting behaviour; hence the potential for change might be less than at companies with a higher share of individual motorised transport.
Even though it is difficult to measure whether the plans have had a direct effect on the modal change, the project has been important in order to learn how to conduct travel plans. Based on the process of the plans, here are the seven recommendations that the City of Aalborg wants to pass on to other authorities or companies who wants to take up travel planning:
Companies should be engaged in the development and dissemination of the plans. This creates ownership of the plans and secures a strategic anchoring of the plan in the organisation. The engagement has to be at the top level in order to have the strategic anchoring and/ or in a dedicated working group to ensure the implementation of initiatives and ensuring that the process is well managed.
An initiative that involves testing "new" technologies such as electric bikes leads to a high level of awareness among employees. Whereas information campaigns alone have a more limited potential to change travel behaviour. Information and concrete initiatives must therefore go hand in hand.
Legislative requirements are important to motivate companies to focus on changing commuter behaviour amongst their employees. (e.g. the number of parking spaces available). Goodwill and image don't do it alone.
It is important to keep a continuous dialogue between the company and the municipality when developing and implementing the plan.
There should be a focus on finding good arguments to convince companies to participate (depending on the context), and make sure that a working group at the company creates ownership of the plan and initiates initiatives.
Commuter travel plan should both be seen as a strategic document and an action plan with concrete initiatives towards employees. This means that employees do not necessarily need to be aware of the actual plan, but more importantly they should know of the initiatives that affect their behaviour. The role of the plan is to work as a strategic instrument that continuously facilitates more initiatives.
Even if there is not a measurable significant change in the bike and public transport share, it is important to continuously support the good behaviour that is already seen amongst employees at many of the companies. Maintaining green travel behaviour is equally important as getting more people to opt for sustainable modes of transport to increase the share of green modes.