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Nov 14, 2011
emilyharrup

Meet our NQE Business Awards Finalists

 

This year the Travel Plan Club, along with ECC and Inntel, have sponsored the Active and Sustainable Travel category in the prestigious NQE business awards

Having choosen nine finalists we followed this up with a visit to each.  It’s been great finding out all the different things they are doing to promote sustainable and active travel.  Here is a snippet of some of the best bits!

Open Road a charity providing drug and alcohol treatment makes great use of  Skype to deliver training between its centres and to hold meetings. This has greatly reduced its business travel costs and overtime payments.

The whole ethos of Green Path Ventures  is to give new experiences to, and build confidence of, people with mental health problems, through being outside, physical activity, social interaction and teaching bush craft skills.

To complement what they already do to encourage their staff to be more active  Click4Quote are considering installing a Wii in their staff kitchen to promote lunchtime activity over the winter months!

DSG have been monitoring their business travel related CO2 emissions and can show a big drop since they introduced video conferencing and other new working practices across all their sites.

An innovative bike maintenance workshop and mobile maintenance trailer which is going to offer bike repairs to local schools,  attracted a recent ministerial visit at The Gilberd School

Discounted D locks, pumps, cycle maintenance equipment, disounts in local bike schops and the Cycle to Work scheme are offered at Colchester VI Form College to help encourage cycling.

The University of Essex has doubled the number of students cycling to campus over the past couple of years through their termly cycle promotions including cycle training, Dr Bike, cycle watch scheme and the sale of second hand bikes.

Income from charging staff to park at Colchester Borough Council is used to offer staff choosing to regularly travel to work sustainably, 50% off bus season/carnet tickets and 35% off train travel.

Colchester United Football Club are really listening to their fans and tailoring services to suit,  there are now shuttle buses from Greenstead, St Johns, Highwoods and Butt Road plus a coach coming from Braintree. As many as 24% of fans now travel to a game by bus

So that’s it, our finalists in a nutshell.  It has been incredibly difficult to decide three winners as everyone is doing such good work. All will be revealed at the awards ceremony on Friday 25th November.  So good luck to you all and have a great evening!

Nov 9, 2011
Andrew Budd

Inntel – cutting your travel and hotel costs

The Travel Plan Club asks “Is your company still using travel warrants? Do your staff just turn up at the station and get a roll-up price ticket on the company plastic?”

Andrew Budd says of his own experience when booking train trips for hiking in Scotland “You could be paying well over the odds for your journey, with some standard journey tickets up to five times the discount price”.

“Do your employees sometimes stay in hotels? Again, there are some excellent deals out there – are you taking advantage of the best prices, or are the hotels taking advantage of the busy-ness of your business?”

“And how much of your staff time is being taken up searching on the internet for best deals for travel and accommodation, and dealing with travel related paperwork?”

We are all asking questions like these at our businesses, as we seek to make cost savings. Essex County Council had staff in various departments carrying out these tasks, and took a look around at alternative ways of purchasing travel tickets and booking hotels. They chose local company INNTEL who are based near Kelvedon.

Inntel’s Marion Carter and Simon New came to the recent Travel Plan Club Event, and set out what they can offer. Follow the link above to their website, and give if you would like to know more give Marion a call on 07711 939026 or email her at  marion.carter@inntel.co.uk.

Sep 30, 2011
emilyharrup

Pulp Friction joins giant inflatables!

It was a gloriously sunny day on Wednesday for Colchester Institute’s Freshers’ Fair.

Luckily for us we found a shady spot to set ourselves up, having transported the smoothie maker plus all the fruit to the event in a bike trailer!  Pulp Friction joined an array of strange and energy demanding inflatable fun things and offered a welcome  break and much needed energy boost for weary and hot students fresh from their surfing, bumper cars and this other thing – which I couldn’t quite work out, but having done some googling have discovered was an inflatable laser quest – picture above!

There were plenty of students prepared to pedal for their smoothies, but plenty also that were happy for someone else to pedal one for them! Pulp Friction got a good thrashing from some of the more enthusiastic lads and at times had to be held down to stop the whole bike and turbo trainer from taking off – some serious rubber was burnt!

180 smoothies were made and we ran out of fruit at around 3.  We attempted to do a short travel survey and managed to pin down 84 students, who completed the survey with varying degrees of attention, so the results are a little random! We did at least get how they travelled to campus,  and the top three ways to travel were bus at 42%, train at 20% and walk at 19%.

So Colchester Institute Freshers’ fair is over and we are due to be at the University of Essex’s Freshers’ Fair on Saturday 8th October – sadly we will not have Pulp Friction with us, as she is already booked, but it does mean we will have some time to actually talk to the students!

 

Sep 6, 2011
Andrew Budd

Legs Eleven gets green light

I’ve got an idea for you.” Justin Lewis from Vacuumatic, at Severalls Business Park, got in touch with us recently. He’s keen on playing his part in reducing traffic congestion in the area where he works, and he’s also interested in people getting a bit of fresh air at lunchtime.  He’s a leader of the business community in the area, although, with Justin’s modest nature, he would probably shrug his shoulders and say “well I’m just interested in what’s going on“.

A few of us are keen on going for a walk at lunchtime, and we enjoy it so much, we thought others might like to try it – so maybe the Travel Plan Club would like to take on a walking project?” Yes indeed, the TPC is very interested, especially as we want to work with more businesses in North Colchester Business Parks (NCBP), and it ticks our “traffic congestion/ public health/ low-cost” boxes.

And so, the Legs Eleven project was born. Justin and colleagues have come up with nine routes round the business parks, and Emily and I have come up with two more walking routes taking us just off-site. Justin suggested a series of cards, to show people the route and places along the way – landmarks for wayfinding, places to eat, and snippets of interesting information. As it’s a community project we want to work with local businesses to prepare the cards, and promote the walks, so watch out for our appearance at your local networking events. (And give us an invitation to your event!)

What’s more, we’ll be there with you, stepping out. Look out for our led walks “Highwoods Ramble” and “Tesco Grab”,  in spring 2012. With a media campaign, we expect Legs Eleven will capture the imagination, promoting the businesses at NCBP. We will soon be in touch with you so that your business can be part of this great local initiative. Says Andrew Budd “with Legs Eleven on its way, lunchtimes have never been such fun“.

Sep 5, 2011
Andrew Budd

Holland not coming our way any day soon……..

“There are two possibilities – either to change the way we build our cities, which is a very far-reaching kind of project, or else we make up for their deficiencies by looking at them in a different way.”

August Endell was a painter and architect, who wrote “The Beauty of the Big City”, about Berlin in the 1920s. And here we are, Colchester a cycle town from 2008, and planning for Colchester 2020. Cycle Colchester project is a partnership between the local authorities and the voluntary sector, and the Colchester project continues even though the current government decided not to continue their financial support for the cycle town concept.

There have recently been some observations that we have not yet created Dutch infrastructure in Colchester. Ah yes, Holland, that heaven on earth where people can cycle from everywhere to everywhere else, in complete safety, happy and smiling all the time. Here’s an inspirational link from Copenhagen http://youtu.be/RCDV-7QWt6Q showing it is entirely possible to create places where many people choose to cycle.

There are some people in Colchester who will say that Colchester is too hilly, too wet or too cold for cycling, despite there being plenty of places that have much more adverse conditions, and much more cycling.  There are others who say “it’s too dangerous, and I won’t cycle until I can get from my home to —– (insert your destination here), until there is a dedicated off-road cyclepath from door to door”. Well the path ain’t going to happen sometime soon, and probably never will.

It’s back to Wendell, and how we respond to our city as it is; lovely but imperfect. I suggest that very many journeys in Colchester can NOW be made by bike, with relatively good ease and safety, if we are prepared to give it a go. If people want to make that change from HABITUAL car use, and use their bike for SOME of the journeys, for many of us, we CAN do it. There is plenty of information out there about equipment and training, and lots of information about cycle routes. 

When we look at the Danes in the video link, remember that the Danes have HIGHER car ownership than we do, it’s just that they don’t choose to use the car for ALL trips. (I have cycled in their smaller, Colchester scale, cities – Aarhus, Aalborg and Odense – and it’s not just a Copenhagen thing.)

OK, we don’t have a full network in Colchester of dedicated cycle routes for all possible trips, but we do have hundreds of miles of quiet roads that are safe to use by bike, and some very useful links through green spaces. We can wait until the perfect path is provided, but I suggest we, as a community, should be getting the benefits of cycling now.

We need more people, using bikes for more kinds of journeys, more of the time. Cycle Colchester isn’t just about “them”, the authorities; it’s also about “us”, the members of our community, and what WE do.

Disclaimer: Please note that this blog posting is my own personal opinion. Feel free to comment.

Aug 30, 2011
emilyharrup

Great news – 53% of our members travel to work sustainably!!

Thanks to those Travel Plan Club members who participated in our recent Snap Shot Travel Survey.  We asked you how you had mainly travelled to work over the past month.  A fantastic 53% of you came to work on your bike, on foot, by bus, train and carshare or you worked from home.

The most common ways to travel sustainably were by bike and foot (12% each) and by bus and carshare (10% each).

So, only 47% of you drove alone to work, and amongst the drivers an impressive 39% also did their bit for sustainable transport and got to work another way at least three times during the month.  Bus, carshare and working from home were the most popular alternatives.

An incredible 91% of you are aware of your organisation’s efforts to promote sustainable travel for the journey to work.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey and congratulations to Anita Steinberg from the University who wins the Chocolate Studio voucher and Mandy Wood from Colchester Borough Council who wins a meal for two at the CO1 cafe in town.  

 Photo from workabilitymanagement.com

Aug 24, 2011
Andrew Budd

“21st Century” national event coming to Colchester

 
‘Transport in the 21st Century’ is the theme of a conference being held at the University of Essex. The event will explore the implications of future transport policy and how sustainable travel interventions will need to advance in order to address the growing environmental demand. Presentations and workshops will showcase developing solutions to achieving reductions in carbon such as the ECOSTARS Fleet Recognition scheme, the Pan European cycle logistics project and the development of high-speed cycle lanes as seen in the Netherlands. Future technology will also feature with a demonstration of developments in mobile phone applications for travel planning. However, enhancements to traditional travel planning interventions will also be highlighted with a new twist on behavioural change and an interactive workshop on motivational interviewing.
 
The event will be run by ACT TravelWise (Association of Commuter Transport) on Friday, 30th March 2012. For more information about this organisation and the Colchester event, check out http://www.acttravelwise.org/home
 
Colchester2020 Travel Plan Club could have some involvement on the day – watch out for details……….
 
(Photo from http://www.care4air.org/eco_stars_profiles.html, we look forward to finding out about your scheme.)
Aug 3, 2011
Andrew Budd

High vis v getting kids on bikes

  

 It’s Sunday morning, 24 July, and the Travel Plan Club members have been invited, with their families, to attend a “Young Explorers” bike ride from the town centre to Friday Woods. It was run to show people the cycle routes, to get people active, and to raise awareness of Type 1 Diabetes (www.justgiving.com/planetfrank ). As a public event, a risk assessment had been prepared, and one of the options was to offer participants advice on cycling, helmets and high-visibilty vests; and some were available if people hadn’t brought their own.

One parent, in the friendliest possible manner, informed the organisers that if we wanted to get young people cycling, don’t expect them to wear a high-vis jacket, as they will want to put fashion before safety. Bear in mind that this was a led 10 kilometre ride (at a slow pace), with almost every metre off-road, with people wearing bright clothing in perfect visibility conditions.

As with many interventions when trying to bring about changes in transport habits, beware of the unintended consequences. By co-incidence there was a recent news story (link below) about the perpetual cycle helmets debate, with many doctors not supporting proposals that might improve safety, but which would also reduce cycling levels, on balance to the detriment of public health. Of course, we all want to see a reduction in head injuries, and helmets might help, but look at things through ordinary people’s eyes, and think about how they will respond. After all, many of us reading this are motorists, and we too could possibly benefit from wearing helmets when travelling in a car, as many of us suffer head injuries in collisions. Think how you would feel if a road safety person promoted helmets to you as a motorist – what would your reaction be, and what reasons would you use to excuse yourself from this road safety measure? 

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23974179-doctors-dont-make-bike-helmets-compulsory.do

 

Jul 28, 2011
Andrew Budd

Tanks for hosting, Stuart! Club Meeting 20 July

 

Who wants a picture of some people sitting in a Travel Plan Club meeting? No one! That’s why, instead, we have a picture of a transport themed pink elephant sculpture in Copenhagen.

Many thanks to everyone who came along to our Club meeting, and especially to Stuart of DSG for hosting the Club on 20 July. Club business over, Stuart gave us a fascinating tour of his workplace. Travel Plan Club members were particularly impressed with the electric drying cabinet for soggy clothes, the first time Colchester Club members had seen such a machine! And it was good to hear the DSG Pool Bikes are popular. In contrast, it was very sobering to see wrecked army vehicles that had returned from Afghanistan, before refurb or scrapping at the DSG workshops.

And now (drum roll) – Club Business Meeting – the newsy notes: Communications – Visits to our new website were invited, now we’ve launched, and, as you’re here now, WELCOME! We now have full control over making changes, so we can be more newsy and less static. All comments and suggestions for improvements welcomed. We always want to hear your travel stories, so if you have something to share, get in touch. We would like this website to be a place where both members and employees visit and use as a resource, so please promote it at every opportunity.

Club Members say they want to keep up to date via Facebook, so please join our FB group “colchester2020 travel plan club”. You can follow our RSS feed, or join us on Twitter (we are “travelplanclub”). WE PROMISE NOT TO OVERLOAD YOU WITH POSTINGS.

ACTTravelwise (the UK’s premier network for all organisations working to promote sustainable travel) are having their prestigious annual conference at the Uni of Essex – Charlotte was not here to update us, but she will let us know if there’s any help and support needed to ensure the conference is a success. At the Meeting, we discussed whether the Travel Plan Club should put a paper forward, regarding our work and how it has developed over the years, and there were mixed views. On balance we decided not to present, as the Club has very recently moved to running on a new model, more appropriate to the current financial climate and the progress we’ve already made with our Travel Plans, and September will be too soon to report on our (much hoped for) success!

Car Sharing and Smarter Driving Autumn Promotion. A bid has been put forward to DEFR, by the TPC with the Colchester Borough Council air quality team. The outcome will be known in September, and we have a Plan B up our sleeves if we don’t get everything we asked for! The broad plan is that :

· People will be encouraged to save money and reduce their fuel consumption through a Smarter Driving promotion, in work places to make it easy to participate. Borrowing from Charlotte’s  ‘Love your car’ campaign, checks would be offered, of tyre pressure, filters, how much excess weight is being carried etc, along with advice on reducing fuel consumption through driving techniques, buying a new car and considering alternatives to driving, particularly for short journeys. If the bid is successful, free Smarter Driving Lessons can be offered, and an appropriate freebie for participants, such as a “boot tidy”.

· We would like to carry out a more targeted car sharing campaign, perhaps aimed at younger people who may not have the complicated family circumstances which make car sharing difficult. Feedback is being gained through the snap survey to help determine the best age group to target, and the barriers to car sharing. If the funding comes through, thoughts are to get people talking through a short and fun film clip, (put together by Nigel Campling and his local company V102?), promoting car sharing through a recognisably local story line, that could lead to more… think BT ads! The film could be uploaded to You Tube, and the audio used in a radio campaign.

Cycling Update

Thanks to Natalie Blyde who joined us to talk through what Healthy Living Solutions can offer. Basically as long as some free cycle training is included, Dr Bike, maintenance classes and anything else can be added in! The funding won’t be available for ever, and it would be good to make the most of the good weather over the summer. Sessions can be arranged at any time to suit workplaces and individuals. Family sessions can also be arranged. Healthy Living Solutions will make it as easy as possible for you, all you need to do is agree a time and date, and help promote it to staff.

Public Transport Autumn Promotion

· Network Colchester discounts are in the pipeline ranging from 22 – 31% on a range of ticket types. As NC don’t have a call centre or ticket office, larger TPC businesses would have to sell them direct and NC would invoice them for those purchased, with no up front money required. Smaller businesses could purchase them through Andrew and Emily.

· A new offer on First carnet tickets is awaited as stocks are running low. Previously the Travel Plan Club bulk brought at a 35% discount and sold on to Travel Plan Club members. Once an offer is on the table, we will look at whether it can be set up differently this time around.

· We will get the commuter bus map updated to reflect the new routes and produce a promotional flyer including the map and all Travel Plan Club discounts, also posters for members to put up at work places.

· Once the winner of the Greater Anglia rail franchise is known, we will approach them to discuss our 10% discount currently offered by NXEA. A copy of our response to the franchise consultation last year has been forwarded to all three of the Department for Transport’s preferred bidders.

Any Other Business

We had some discussion around the future of the Travel Plan Club, and how we may need to consider formalising our status so that we have our own bank account, governing body, constitution etc to enable us to bid for funding in our own right. Andrew and Emily will be looking into the options.

And there it was, all over, business efficiently done in just over an hour; and time for a DSG tour. Make sure you’re at the next TPC Event on 26 October, and the next TPC Meeting on 25 January 2012.

Jul 18, 2011
emilyharrup

Colour, glamour and a touch of sunshine!

Boudica, William the Conquerer and the Witchfinder General were just some of the colourful and noisy characters who braved the bad weather and joined our ‘sustainable travel’ float.  Luckily a break in the rain meant a dry float and happy children!  Led by a band of exuberant four year old scooterers, the thirty plus strong Travel Plan Club float, walked, cycled and scootered its way along the streets of Colchester amidst the sound of the Samba band and the cheers from the crowd.

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What’s coming up?

5 - 19 May Colchester Walking Challenge

10 - 25 June Colchester Cycle Challenge

(10 - 17 June National Bike Week)

14 June CTPC members meeting

15 June National Clean Air Day

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