Our Big Commuter Challenge 2014

In June 2014 Travelwest, a brand used by the West of England Partnership for all things travel related, joined up with Sustrans to launch a six week challenge aimed at encouraging commuters in the West of England sub-region to leave their cars behind and make alternative, and perhaps more sustainable, travel arrangements.

Sustainable travel challenges are not a new thing in this part of the country, with the month long Jam-busting challenge running in most years since 2007. But with 3,382 registered participants logging over 54,000 journeys to date, The Big Commuter Challenge (TBCC) has apparently broken all records for participation and has to date removed around 10,000 vehicle trips from the roads.

Previous initiatives have used an element of competition to motivate employers to sign up and employees to take part, and TBCC adopts the same tactic, pitting companies of similar sizes against one another for the sustainable travel bragging rights. However, TBCC has taken the challenge up a notch, offering individuals the opportunity to earn points that give them money off at various retailers, telling them how much money they have saved compared to their normal travel habits and tempting them with a virtual pile of doughnuts, representing the calories they have burnt by travelling using a less sedentary mode.
As sustainable travel advocates who are always up for a challenge, Key Transport Consultants have taken to the challenge with gusto with 100% of the office logging at least one journey by a sustainable travel mode. Our team of eight have logged 276 journeys with ED pills Cialis 800mg so far covering 1,207 miles in sustainable fashion. We are currently joint first on the leader board in the 3 – 20 employee size category and have collectively earned 155 doughnuts – but have not yet eaten this many!
While 50% of the team already travel by sustainable modes most days, the remaining half are predominantly car based (and all live more than 5 miles from the office as the crow flies). Faced with the daunting task of changing mode we asked Principal Transportation Engineer Victoria Watkins to note her experience and here is her tale.
I usually drive to work on my own from Nailsea, North Somerset, after dropping my daughter at the child-minder and park on street in the centre of Bristol. Due to the impending arrival of residents’ parking schemes in the area where I usually park, I have previously signed up to a car sharing website but not yet found a match. The Big Commuter Challenge was an opportunity to try alternatives for my journey to and from work, one of which I may come to rely on in the future.At the half way point of the Big Commuter Challenge, everyone in the office has tried travelling to and from work by a different mode and the peer pressure meant I could not ignore the challenge any longer. So far I have tried out a couple of different ways to get to work: I have used the recently introduced Long Ashton Park & Ride / Clifton / Southmead 505 bus service and also cycled to work for the first time.
The main thing that struck me when looking to try a new mode of travel was the number of queries that I needed to answer before I could take my first step towards travelling sustainably:
    •    How long would my journey take?
    •    Which ticket do I need / which is the best ticket?
    •    Which way should I cycle?
    •    Which route has the shortest hill?
    •    Where can I lock my bike up at work?
Most of my queries were answered after a few discussions with colleagues and some research online. The Big Commuter Challenge has also made me consider how I get to work in terms of how sustainable my journey is and also in terms of the practicalities, such as cost.
Each mode had its positives and negatives. Using the bus I have to run to someone else’s timetable and the day that there was some deviation on my part meant I had to run to catch a bus hoping that the bus driver would kindly stop for me to board – he did. On the plus side I was able to read a book and listen to my music on the journey. When cycling my main negative experience came from a fellow two-wheel traveller who berated me for my incorrect lane positioning on the Festival Way cycle path –however, they had not realised I had pulled over to turn off the path through a gate. The positives of bike travel are a little less tangible (healthier/cheaper) but I got a tremendous sense of achievement riding up Park Street and making it (nearly) to the top! Which is not bad for my first attempt.
As part of many projects I write travel plans and set out ways in which people could travel sustainably. Taking part in the challenge and travelling by different modes has given me an insight into what concerns people may have, or what they may perceive as possible barriers to travelling by different modes, and how we can address such things when encouraging people to travel sustainably as part of work. “