Schoolkids help their community to TravelSmart

Junior Transport Officers help boost cycling by 27 per cent

by Tony Farrelly   December 4, 2008  

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Pupils from schools in East Inverness have played a significant part in changing the travelling behaviour of their local community. Walking, cycling and public transport use has rocketed in Inverness after local school pupils urged family and friends to take advantage of an innovative sustainable travel project.

The TravelSmart Project targetted some 1500 homes in East Inverness offering tailored help to enable people to travel more actively. The project was supported by the Highland Council and lead by Sustrans in partnership with Socialdata working with Junior Road Safety Officers from four local primary schools. These volunteer pupils wrote to households in their catchments asking them to reduce their car use and travel more by bike, on foot and by public transport. TravelSmart advisors then followed up with phone calls offering personalised sustainable travel information packs, rewards and incentives. Contact was made with 94 per cent of households in the target area, leading to significant changes in travel behaviour.

According to Sustrans a detailed evaluation of the project showed that the TravelSmart ITM campaign achieved substantial increases in walking (up by 22 per cent), cycling (up by 27 per cent) and use of public transport (up by 11 per cent). At the same time there were relative reductions in car trips of 13 per cent, and in car distances travelled for day-to-day trips of 7 per cent (a net saving of 0.9 million car km per year among the target population). The shift from car travel to walking, cycling and public transport also resulted in a 14 per cent increase in average daily exposure to physically active forms of travel.

Sustrans' Scotland Director John Lauder explains the significance of the Inverness work: "This TravelSmart project was a milestone for Sustrans, as it was the first of its kind in Scotland. It was also the first TravelSmart project with such close involvement from schools. We are indebted to Ailsa Villegas and Lisa MacKellaich of The Highland Council Road Safety Department who coordinated school contributions, and to the
pupils and their teachers who worked so hard to achieve these results. Having artwork from pupils to illustrate the local sustainable travel maps and other materials was a great way to make the project more engaging for local people, and the success in reducing car use and promoting active travel is testament to the value of this type of
partnership."

Such was the success of the project that last week officials from Scottish local and national government attended a masterclass on the East Inverness initiative to learn about how its success could be replicated throughout Scotland.