As with many areas of life, the COVID-19 pandemic has served to accelerate change that was already underway. Two examples of this are the move away from using cash and growing numbers of people working from home. A third example is the desire of many for a more sustainable, reduced-stress commute.
To support commuters, companies, and others in making positive changes, the non-government organization Breikers has been serving companies and organizations in the Metreopole Region Amsterdam with consulting help from Arcadis.
One recent project has been to reduce commuter vehicle traffic on the busy highways A7 and A8 to the city of Amsterdam.
The project began by identifying users of these roads and then speaking with their employers, particularly departments heads such as HR directors, sustainability officers and finance directors. The staff were also consulted as part of this process. The purpose of the exercise was to map out a picture by listening to many different points of view. This input formulated the baseline.
The next step is an analysis to understand where employees lived, how and when they travelled to and from work, their access to public transport and cycleways and any additional aspects of their commutes. Employers were invited to discuss their commitment to change, their corporate sustainability goals and the help they need to achieve them.
The information gathered from the staff policy creators (HR, Finance etc), coupled with the data from the mobility analyses and employer inspiration sessions is setting up the foundation for building a new mobility policy, which included incentives to help achieve various goals.
For example, instead of penalizing car drivers with higher parking fees and road tolls for using their vehicles, employees may be offered for a certain period a free bike to try cycling more often.
Companies are given the information and tools to help build a new mobility policy together with their staff. They’re invited to share ideas and suggestions, discuss options such as bike schemes or electric car leasing, and to broaden the opportunities to work more from home.
This type of approach has been delivering impressive results with hundreds of people swapping their car commute for bicycling, and saving thousands of kilos of CO2 pollution in the air. At the same time this is helping companies meet their environmental targets and employees are enjoying healthier journeys to and from work.
Good quality communication has been a key part of the roll out of this program, and there is no doubt that the incentive carrot has proven more effective than the punishment stick.
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