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Commuter travel plans (Aalborg)

Aalborg

Commuter traffic is a main contributor to congestion in Aalborg, which leads to high levels of pollution and compromises safety. Aalborg is developing company travel plans to encourage commuters to use more sustainable means of transport.

Implementing sustainable mobility

While generally short, daily journeys between home and the workplace generate a large share of traffic in Aalborg. In 2005, the Technical and Environmental Department in Aalborg elaborated the first commuter travel plan in the city. Based on this experience, the city of Aalborg develops commuter travel plans for public and private companies to encourage car pooling, cycling and public transport.

The main objectives of this measure are to:

  • Reduce congestion;
  • Reduce pollution;
  • Improve road safety; and
  • Bring about a shift towards sustainable mobility modes.

 

The city conducted an online survey to record commuters’ preferred means of transport and their willingness to shift modes or use car pooling. The results highlighted areas for improvement to facilitate walking, cycling and the use of public transport. Based on this survey, the city developed travel plans and information materials for companies. The municipality collaborates with companies to help analyse travel behaviour and propose relevant initiatives.

How did the measure progress?

The first commuter travel plan was conducted in fall 2009 for Aalborg University. Approximately 3,000 students and employees completed the survey Based on the survey, the plan was developed and initiatives were suggested such as the introduction of bicycle ambassadors and information kits for new students.

The next commuter travel plan was prepared in spring 2010 for Siemens Wind Power, which employs around 600 people in Aalborg. About 300 employees answered the questionnaire. Subsequently an electric bicycle scheme was launched. Ten electric bicycles were provided for employees to use during three months. The scheme proved very successful, motivating the employees to take up cycling.

For the municipal department of Health and Sustainable Development, a commuter travel plan was developed in summer 2010 with the successful introduction of an electric bike scheme. Around the same time, a commuter plan was prepared for the regional public transport authority NT. A CO₂-neutral week was implemented, which unfortunately did not see much participation from employees.

Aalborg ran a campaign to recruit more companies to get involved in the project in 2010. As a result, six new companies agreed to participate in the measure during 2011. In spring 2011, commuter travel plans for City-Trafik (the bus company operating the shuttlebus and half of the biodiesel busses in measure 1), Tulip (a food production company) and Alfa Laval (a leading marine boiler engineering company and manufacturer) were developed. Both City-Trafik and Alfa Laval participated succesfully in an electrical bike scheme. During summer 2011, a comuter travel plan for Post Denmark was developed, leading to an annual bicycle fixing day, the promotion of public transport as well as a competition on sustainable commuting. During fall and winter 2011, the surveys for Tech College North Jutland (vocational education and training for youth; industry employees and unemployed),  and the Region of Northjutland were conducted.

The commuter travel plans contain a first part with the description of the current travel behaviour of the employees based on a questionnaire; a second part with the employees experienced drivers and barriers for more sustainable transport (also based on results from the questionaires) and a third part with recommendations on viable mobility initiatives for the company.

The implemented initiatives differ among the companies but include, information campaigns on green commuting - involving information on how the employees could minimise their individual motrorised commuting by using eg. public transport, bikeroutes or car-pooling. Trail periods with electric bicycles at some companies, organisation of car-pooling and improved facilities for cyclists.

What were the outcomes of the measure?

Since the impacts differ between the companies and are also influenced by differences in response rates between before and after data, it is not possible to draw well documented overall quantitative conclusions for the 7 companies. Even so, interesting results have been reached at the level of the individual companies, and are summarised in the following points,  baring in mind the potential errors of the evaluation:

  • The campaign and the tool provided to enhance carpooling at Siemens Windpower has had a positive effect at the administrative level. The modal share of car pooling increased in a  13%.
  • A 13% increase in modal share of cycling trips by employees of Alfa Laval, after trials with electric bicycles and provision of new bike sheds and showers for cyclists.
  • A 7% increase in public transport use among employees of the Municipality Department of Health and Sustainable Development company SBU.
  • Average increase in the modal share for bikes at the seven companies, however not all companies experienced an increase in bike use after the implementation of commuter plans.  SBU, with a high share of cyclists had the most remarkable decrease in bike-use (6%), while Alfa Laval experienced the highest increase with 13%.
  • The average share of car-pooling remained almost stable with notable variations between the companies. At SBU the modal share of car-pooling (Car with passenger and car passenger) decreased with 11% while the car alone increased by 8%. Post Danmark experienced the highest increase of car-pooling with 3%, whereas the car alone decreased by 8%.

 

The number and type of initiatives implemented at each company varies, with more information/awareness actions on the one hand and testing of hands-on initiatives, such as lending of electric bikes, bike sheds, and bicycle repair services, on the other hand. As expected, the employees of companies that implemented many hands-on initiatives have a higher awareness-level of the initiatives and the commuter plan. A longer time span before conducting the evaluation would be preferable, since then more initiatives could have been implemented and the initiatives implemented would have had a longer time to shows its effects on travel behaviour.

Recommendations on commuter travel plans:

  • The companies should engage in the development and dissemination of the plans, this provides ownership of the plans and secures a strategic anchoring of the plan in the organisation.
  • Initiatives that involves test of 'hands on' initiatives, such as electric bikes, causes a high awareness level 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 the companies to focus on changing commuter behaviour amongst their employees. (e.g. the number of parking spaces available). Goodwill and image doesn't do it alone.
  • Commuter travel plan should both be seen as a strategic document and an action plan with concrete initiatives towards the employees.

 

 

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