Balancing deliverability and ambition holds key to implementing sustainable travel schemes

12.00 | 31 January 2017 | | 1 comment

Local authorities must find a balance between deliverability and ambition when it comes to implementing sustainable transport schemes, a new report has found.

Commissioned by the DfT, the report draws out through a series of case studies, the lessons learnt from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund 2011-2015 programme.

The report focusses on a number of issues, including: increasing cycling, encouraging sustainable travel to work, marketing sustainable travel and strategy and leadership.

Among the key lessons outlined is the importance of improving the cycling network on multiple levels, for example creating links to key destinations as well as enhancing connectivity and safety.

When it comes to marketing sustainable travel, the report stresses the importance of researching audiences sufficiently to understand the best channels through which to reach them, as well as being consistent with branding.

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The four-year, £540m Local Sustainable Transport Fund involved 77 local authorities, with 12 large projects receiving more than £5m and 84 smaller projects receiving less than £5m. The money was used to support a range of activities including encouraging modal shift, broadening travel horizons, using vehicles more efficiently, public realm enhancement and reducing road casualties.

The report provides an overview of the activities undertaken and gives insights from local authority practitioners on what was successful, what challenges were encountered, how these were overcome and lessons for delivering similar projects and programmes in the future.

Lessons learnt – increasing cycling

  • Take a holistic approach for your offer; where possible, it should involve cycling infrastructure, equipment, training and promotional activity using both capital and revenue for the complementary activities.
  • Take a strategic approach for new and improved cycle routes and improve the network on multiple levels by, for example, creating links to key destinations as well as enhancing connectivity, ease of use, safety, and appealing to all levels of cyclists.

Encouraging sustainable travel to work

  • Engage employers by building relationships – this can take time so persistence is key, as well as finding ‘trigger’ issues.  
  • Take a structured approach to workplace travel plans and create an attractive employers’ package promoting health benefits.  
  • Initiatives effective in engaging employees include workplace ‘challenges’, personalised travel planning best delivered as a roadshow and transport ‘taster’ tickets.

Marketing sustainable travel

  • Target marketing by researching audience sufficiently to understand the best channels through which to reach them.  
  • Be consistent in branding, using a specific brand, and letting people know how they can participate, as well as ensuring messages highlight the benefits.
  • Make the best use of digital media and word-of-mouth.

Strategy and leadership

  • A trade-off between ambition and deliverability, focussing on what can realistically be delivered is key.
  • In the project delivery phase, when moving from planning to reality, take time to do a strategic ‘reality’ check, adapting the project where necessary.
  • Keep the core delivery team in-house even if activities are delivered by an arms-length body.  
  • A one-team approach is vital, including with sub-contractors.
  • For project monitoring and evaluation, plan from the outset, keep a record of the scale of activity on a rolling basis and identify any suitable metrics as a result of your interventions.

‘What Works?’ Learning from the LSTF 2011-15 – click here to access a summary, the full report and a series of appendices.



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    A sensible report. I particularly like the “when moving from planning to reality, take time to do a strategic ‘reality’ check,”. Music to my ears as this has been woefully lacking with many cycling related projects around the country. Too many half-baked cycling schemes around. If it is worth doing, do it well or not at all.

    Pat, Wales
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