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Mobility planning: a driving force for sustainability

The need for mobility planning and workplace mobility plans is now at an all time high. In this article Ronan Grealy discusses why and how we should implement these plans to ensure a sustainable future.

09 December 2020 | 4 min read
Ronan Grealy
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The importance of mobility planning

“Transport is not an end in itself but rather a means allowing people to access what they need: jobs markets and goods, social interaction, education, and a full range of other services contributing to healthy and fulfilled lives.”

The above quote from the UN’s special advisory group illustrates just how important transport is to our daily lives and wellbeing. However, amidst all the benefits of strong transport infrastructure we are still seeing a considerable amount of environmental negatives which can't be ignored. Transport in Ireland is 97% dependent on oil and is responsible for a 24% increase in CO2 emissions since 2012.

Coupled with this, congestion levels are only getting worse around the country. In 2018 Dublin was ranked the slowest city centre in Europe with Dublin drivers spending an average of 246 hours in traffic. Cork and Galway are little better.

Currently 59% of people feel that it's too dangerous to cycle on roads and a reduction in bus services has left people with no alternatives. A move towards a more sustainable transport system is therefore imperative and really is our only option for the future.

The Irish government has taken a strategic approach to developing a sustainable transport plan with their Climate Action Plan of 2019. Some of the key areas of which, if implemented correctly, will make a huge difference in the fight for sustainability:

  • Switch to Electric Vehicles – by 2030 we aim to have 1 million electric vehicles on the roads.
  • Achieve greater Modal Shift from cars to walking, cycling and public transport.
  • Convert public transport fleet to zero emissions.
  • Develop Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for freight fleet.
  • Improve rail systems and services.
  • Develop multi-modal hubs (Park & Ride).
  • Cycle network improvement in all urban areas.

This drive for sustainable transport is going to have implications for development projects. In a major behavioural shift,  sustainable mobility is going to have to be built into the project from the very beginning; and with the increase in new technologies we will have to adopt an agile approach to new solutions.

Mobility planning

What this means for project managers and engineers alike is that sustainable transport measures are an increasing planning requirement for major developments. Mobility management plans and workplace travel plans are in increasing demand. These act as a transport planning tool to bring about change in behaviour and attitudes towards transport choices and streamline parking provisions. The demand for mobility management plans isn't just coming from new developments but we are seeing more and more existing developments implementing them as part of sustainable interventions. The National Transport Authority of Ireland published a comprehensive guideline for Mobility management plans and outlined the various low cost, high visibility approaches that can contribute to a culture of sustainability within the organisation.

 

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Source: https://www.nationaltransport.ie/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Workplace-Travel-Plans-A-Guide-for-Implementers.pdf

Any reduction in car use can achieve significant cost savings for an organisation, both in money and employee time. According to the NTA, in the Mater Hospital in Dublin, Tax Saver commuter tickets for public transport save the hospital an average of €33,000 per annum in Employer’s PRSI payments.  Other companies reduce parking costs by supporting car share and supporting cycling and walking.

To achieve the full benefit of a Mobility Management Plan (MMP) both financial and staff time inputs are required. We have a wide array of experience in preparing Mobility Management Plans/Workplace Travel Plans; the key objectives of many of these being to reduce employee car dependency and provide transport choice by improving the attractiveness and accessibility of other modes of sustainable transport. To achieve this various site specific surveys will often set out to:

  • Establish current modes of travel
  • Establish measures which would attract employees to switch to sustainable travel options
  • Establish reason for mode of travel
  • Other factors include distance, age etc.

Outlining these four stages allows us to shape bespoke initiatives and targets for our clients - there's no one size fits all.

Today, transport drives development, linking people, connecting local communities to the world, building markets and facilitating trade. It's clear we have a need for more sustainable transport infrastructure and for this to happen it has to start at ground level. Thorough mobility management plans/workplace mobility plans can act as the driving force for a sustainable future.

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Benefits of reducing car dependency