Can your business Go Smarter?
How did you travel to work this morning? Was it by car, bike or maybe public transport? It’s not something we think about too often but Go Smarter - Tyne and Wear’s sustainable transport programme – is here to change that.
The Government-funded programme works with businesses and schools across Tyne and Wear to encourage people to travel more sustainably, by walking, cycling, car sharing or using public transport.
As well as reducing congestion on our roads, it keeps people healthy, helps the environment and ultimately has a positive impact on Tyne and Wear’s economy.
Go Smarter’s fully funded projects, initiatives and successful matched-funding programme has already supported hundreds of businesses and employees keen to enjoy more sustainable, environmental and economical ways of travel.
Nick Clennett, Go Smarter’s SRO and head of transport strategy, communities and environment, at Gateshead Council, said: “Sustainable and active travel doesn’t need to be intimidating, it’s as simple as getting off the bus a stop early or sharing your car with a colleague to and from work.
“We work with businesses to find solutions that work for them and their employees. It’s about making small changes that people can sustain.”
There’s proof it’s better for business too. Research has shown that people who have an active commute to work have fewer sick days and are more productive. Sustainable commutes also have wider environmental and economical benefits too.
In April 2014 commercial law firm, Muckle LLP, became the first organisation to be awarded the Go Smarter to Work Gold Award, in recognition of the firm’s commitment to sustainable travel.
Andrew Davison, partner at Muckle LLP said: “As a company we’re committed to minimising the adverse impact of our business and our people on the environment so participating in initiatives which raise awareness of alternative and more sustainable methods of travelling fits perfectly with this.
“We first started working with Go Smarter in 2013. One great initiative was the personal travel planning service on offer.
“Go Smarter looked at the data we provided in our annual travel survey and provided a personalised plan for staff detailing how they could get to and from work by the most sustainable method. We also received public transport taster tickets for those who people that normally drive.
“Some of our keen cyclists have also been involved in the Dr Bike and Fix It Yourself sessions. Dr Bike is an on-site bike repair service that provides minor fixes to staff bikes.
“The Fix It Yourself session was a great way for people to learn and to have the confidence to do just that, fix it yourself. We’re always looking for ‘what next’ and will certainly continue to work with Go Smarter.
“If we can get just one person out of a car one day a week, and make it easy for them to do so, then it will be worthwhile.
“The accessibility of the Go Smarter to Work Toolkit and transport initiatives available really helps us to encourage the gradual change of people’s attitudes to sustainable travel.”
As part of its 2015/16 programme, Go Smarter has expanded into a further six new key employment sites around the A19 corridor. These include Sunderland Enterprise Park and Doxford International Business Park in Sunderland; Cobalt Business Park & Silverlink Shopping Centre and Tyne Tunnel Trading Estate in North Tyneside; Port of Tyne & Bede Industrial Estate and Boldon Business Park in South Tyneside.
Go Smarter continues to work with businesses and employees at the four key employment sites around the A1 corridor, which include Newcastle/Gateshead city centres, intu Metrocentre, Team Valley and Washington.
70 organisations are now recognised as Go Smarter accredited businesses including some of the biggest employers in the region.
Melanie Maughan, corporate responsibility manager at the NHS Business Services Authority, said: “We’ve been involved with Go Smarter since February 2014 after we launched an internal campaign to encourage our staff to travel in a more sustainable way.
“The initial response was good, however it highlighted that as an organisation, we could do more to promote sustainable travel options to our staff to improve our local environment and support staff wellbeing.
“At the time, Go Smarter had extended their area of coverage and were able to provide us with a comprehensive support package that enabled us to collect useful travel data and determine the barriers for staff using public transport and other sustainable forms of transport.
“This has helped us to create a site travel plan with a package of measures to promote sustainable transport. Our staff have been absolutely thrilled with the amount of support that has been provided and we’ve seen a greater uptake in staff cycling to work.
“We’ve held a number of Go Smarter events including bike maintenance sessions, electric bike trials, cycle training and even Nordic walking! It’s hard to believe that this has been provided free of charge!”
For more information about sustainable travel in Tyne and Wear and working with Go Smarter, visit http://bit.ly/gosmarterchronicle