Consulting the public to help create a sustainable transport campaign in Cork (Ireland)

By News Editor / Updated: 24 Apr 2015
The city of Cork in Ireland started a public consultation with the aim to to gain insight into the perceptions of the citizens of the issues and barriers to change in relation to sustainable transport. Responses to the survey inform how to proceed on developing a series of soft measures.
As part of the ADDED VALUE project, Cork City Council (CCC) sought to promote and market the improvements to bus and cycle infrastructure under both the Green Routes programme and the Park-and-Ride facilities completed in recent years, and also to raise awareness of the benefits of sustainable transport modes in general. In doing so the city council, focused its action on three key institutions in the south-western sector of the city: the University College Cork (UCC), the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and the Cork University Hospital (CUH), which together attract 7 000 employees, 25 000 students  and welcome several hundreds of visitors everyday.

Raising awareness of the infrastructural improvements that have been carried out and evaluating feedback on transport issues was considered to be an important initial step. For the three institutions, CCC carried out an online public consultation on sustainable mobility. The public consultation had two objectives: to understand the public we target, and to make people think about sustainable transport. Based on this survey, CCC would recommend appropriate soft measures for employees, visitors and students with the aim of bringing about a reduction in the use of the private car.
In action 
An online public consultation/awareness campaign on sustainable mobility was carried out from the 26 January-20 February 2009 Students, staff and visitors from UCC, CIT and CUH were invited to register online. Emails were sent to a target audience of staff and students in each institution and press releases were sent to the local media including on-site radio stations. The website was also linked from the homepages of the key stakeholders. In addition, posters and flyers were also produced for dissemination and display in each institution and two promotional days were held in each site. On each promotional day, one or two temporary employees of CCC (i.e. students) carried out the following tasks:
Task 1 - Distribute flyers on site to encourage people to complete the survey online
Objective (per day and for two people):
  • 300 flyers for students
  • 200 flyers for staff
  • 100 flyers for visitors
Task 2 - Fill in paper copies of the survey on-site
Objective (per day and for two persons):
  • 100 paper surveys for visitors
  • 50 paper surveys for students
  • 50 papers surveys for staff
Paper surveys were later submitted online by the collectors. Those who filled in the survey online had the opportunity to win one of 500 book vouchers worth € 5. The questionnaire was composed of 30 questions and divided into three sections. The first section aimed to collect information about the respondent’s age, gender, work category etc. The second section aimed to identify people’s travel patterns: such as their mode of transport, the difficulties faced, etc. The third section sought to acquire further understanding of people’s awareness about sustainable transport issues, their perceptions of cycling, the discouraging factors for car-pooling etc.
The objective was to reach a cross-section of participants at the three institutions and this was largely achieved. 
  • 2 359 people took part in the public consultation;
  • 58 per cent were from UCC;
  • 64 per cent s were students;
  • 55 per cent were female;
  • 65 per cent were under 41 years old.
Response trends show that it was easier to engage students in the survey than staff because they had more free time, whereas staff and visitors were busier/intent on a specific purpose. Despite this, it was felt that the overall response was broadly representative. There was also greater freedom of movement in the university campuses and more places to put up posters than in the hospital. A different, more tailored approach should be considered for hospital surveys in the future e.g. locating information/survey stands near all entrances and allowing postage of entries for older participants who may not be so internet-savvy.

This awareness-raising public consultation process was essential in establishing baseline data for our target audience and also to gain insight into their perceptions of the issues and barriers to change in relation to sustainable transport. Responses to the survey would inform how to proceed on developing a series of soft measures to promote public transport, Park-and-Ride, cycling and lift-sharing.
In Depth 
Photo by Tim Franklin Photography / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Public and stakeholder involvement
Mobility management
Lenihan Anita
Lenihan Anita
17 Aug 2010
24 Apr 2015