At a first meeting of the Colmore Row BUG (Bicycle Users Group), I spoke to Anna Newey of JMP about the use of travel plans as a tool to promote cycling. Her colleague, Sian Fox, has been kind enough to write an article for Push Bikes on the benefits of travel plans with some advice and resources for someone wanting to develop a travel plan.
Travel plans are used by organisations across the UK as a basis to coordinate their work on reducing car use amongst their staff.
A travel plan is a live document (which means a document that should be reviewed and updated regularly) which includes objectives and realistic targets, and describes a series of actions which will enable employees to travel to work by a more sustainable or active mode of transport. A travel plan can also contribute to the community and environment surrounding the organisation and is therefore a tailored document, different for each organisation, helping to reduce congestion and making the area a safer and more pleasant environment to work in. When relocating, a travel plan can also ensure that employees are prepared for the move, with as little disruption as possible to their daily commute. Benefits for organisations for implementing travel plans are vast and include:
- Improve health and wellbeing of staff and reduce sick days by 27%;
- Save money for the business and staff;
- Reduce car park congestion and congestion near to a site;
- Improve the environment and meet environmental and corporate social responsibility aims
JMP have worked successfully on travel plans for organisations across the country, and here in the West Midlands, we were recently involved in delivery of the Centro and local authority employer project, Smart Network, Smarter Choices. This project was delivered in partnership and supported over 150 organisations to help reduce business transport costs, improve employee health and meet environmental credentials. Through this project, we collected baseline data and developed personalised travel plans with detailed action plans setting out measures to assist in the mode shift towards sustainable transport modes. These travel plans have been an excellent stepping stone towards increasing the number of people cycling to work, and through our work with Centro, we contributed to a 4% reduction in single car occupancy at the organisations who are part of the project.
Travel plans can also be crucial in assisting an organisation through significant changes for example, expanding premises, a relocation, or changes in policies. You may also be required to implement a travel plan as part of a planning application. All these changes present a huge opportunity to engage employees and encourage them to try a new way of travelling to work, with this change often being the incentive needed to break a habit.
Birmingham International Airport have developed a significant travel plan. The actions of this are used to coordinate a work plan for the whole year, integrating this with other teams across the airport, and offering alternatives to ensure that the expanding airport has minimal impact on the local transport network.
The key to developing a travel plan is to follow the 5 step process outlined below;
- Gain buy in – ensure you have agreement from your senior management team to develop a travel plan and implement measures which result from the work;
- Find out the current situation – carry out a staff survey asking how staff currently travel, and undertake a site audit so you can establish the current offer available and spot where there are gaps in items which would encourage employees to travel by more active and sustainable modes;
- Set yourself achievable targets and objectives – this gives you something to work towards, feedback to your senior management team and monitor in future years;
- Develop a workplan of actions to improve your sustainable travel offer – keep it simple, sticking to around 10 key actions which will see changes implemented, and generate enthusiasm and positivity for the travel plan;
- Communicate with your colleagues – share your new initiatives, provisions or competitions with employees and get them excited about trying a new way of travelling to work, or improving their current journey!
JMP and Birmingham City Council can help at any stage of the process outlined above, from coordinating surveys and putting together a travel plan, to developing actions for the travel plan itself. Actions can include free activities such as re-promoting existing policies to remind employees of the opportunities they already have access to, or a free lunchtime session on car sharing for staff, providing them with the chance to talk to colleagues about their journey, and see if anyone else has a similar journey to them, so they can car share and therefore save money. Many actions will also be beneficial, not only to staff, but also to visitors, for example, improving access to local public transport and cycling information on an external and internal website can be a cost effective way of reducing the demand for car parking spaces and encouraging visitors to consider their journeys.
There are many resources available to help:
- www.jmp.co.uk/services/sustainable-travel-behaviour-change - case studies and examples of how JMP can help you to develop and implement a travel plan and its measures.
- www.mynetwork.org.uk - the Centro business and employers team can assist with providing resources and information on sustainable travel for you to disseminate.
- www.networkwestmidlands.com – information available for companies on the benefits of a travel plan and ticketing schemes free to sign up to, but reducing the cost of public transport for staff.
- www.cyclescheme.co.uk/ - a national cycling scheme for employers to provide a discounted scheme for employees to purchase a bike for work.
- www.birmingham.gov.uk/smarterchoices - the Smarter Choices team at Birmingham City Council also have information about travel plans.
- www.travelplans.org.uk - this website from Greater Manchester provides information about travel plans.
If you would like more information, please contact us: Sian Fox and Anna Newey
Our email addresses are based on our names - forename.surname @ jmp.co.uk
Telephone - 0121 230 6021