Since the end of the nineties, the City of Ghent has pursued a policy in favour of sustainable travel modes. In the past, the city took several initiatives to encourage the use of sustainable transport modes for home-school traffic (e.g. free public transport for under 15year olds) and leisure-related traffic (e.g. shopping bus, free public transport during weekends in December).Now, the City Council wants to give greater attention to sustainable home-work trips.
Background & Objectives
Within the Step-by-Step project a campaign to stimulate the use of biking and public transport for home-work trips was developed. The campaign in Ghent tried to focus on the first two steps of the Tapestry approach:
- to increase the awareness of the problem
- to bring an acceptance of responsibility
The concrete objectives of the campaign were :
- to reach the main employers in the city centre and maximise participation levels
- to reach the majority of the employees in participating companies and obtain their participation
- to supply travel advice about sustainable alternatives to all participants interested in it
- to achieve a high degree of satisfaction with regard to the sustainable travel advice provided
- on European Car Free Day, to obtain a modal shift within participating companies
The City Council agreed that the European Car Free Day, organised every year on 22nd September, was an ideal starting point for this campaign. As 22nd September fell on a working day (Monday in 2003; Wednesday in 2004) it was a good opportunity to involve employers and employees in the event. We wanted to make companies and their employees aware of the fact that they are the main cause of traffic congestion at peak hours, and of pollution due to car use and road safety problems.>By making good arguments and by showing that in a lot of cases there is an alternative to individual car use; we wanted to make clear to employers and employees that they are responsible for the problems, but that they are also part of the solution.
The campaign initiator is Traject but the campaign was developed and implemented in consultation with the Mobility Department City of Ghent and the Flemish Association of Public Transport Users.
In total 495 employees participated in the first campaign (Car Free Day 2003), which was organised on a smaller scale. For the larger campaign in 2004 we could count on the collaboration of 38 employers: 4 companies located in the port of Ghent, and 34 in the city centre. The participation level of the bigger companies (> 50 employees) in the city centre was very high : 34 of the 75 contacted companies participated!
We received 1039 subscriptions for the Car Free Day : 1011 participants working in one of the 38 companies and 28 individual subscriptions. 289 participants (28%) general use their car for the daily home-work trip and chose another mode for their trip on Car Free Day. However, most of the employees participating in the campaign already exhibited sustainable mobility behaviour.
The majority (76%) of the car drivers choose the bike as an alternative mode on 22nd September. Some 19% wanted to try out public transport. These 289 cars kept out of town on the European Car Free Day can be seen as 1,75km less traffic jam and / or 2 football fields less parking area needed!