Mar 25, 2015

Building on experience in Burgos

Spanish partner targets students and workers in outlying high-rise district

The AMC campaign in Burgos started on April 20 and will wrap up at the end of May before the local elections. The short deadline is a challenge, but because Burgos’s project builds on previous work, local implementers believe they have an advantage.

The Burgos campaign approaches people who live in an outlying area of residential high rises called G3. Home to some 21,000 people, G3 is not quite rural and not quite suburban – it’s an “in-between” zone characterised by high car use and good but underused sustainable options.

The campaign started by contacting 500 people out of a pool of 2,800 households that took part in the first phase of an ongoing EU-funded project to promote bicycling – PTP Cycle. Half of the 500 are students who travel by car but who are open to alternative modes. The other 250 are workers who commute by car to a distant industrial area. These workers have indicated they would use a more sustainable option if it were available.

On the basis of information collected during PTP Cycle (supported through the Intelligent Energy Europe programme), Burgos already knows about its target group’s mobility habits and preferences. These people have all indicated a desire to switch to sustainable modes, which puts Burgos a step ahead. Campaigners won’t waste time contacting people who have no interest in green transport.

Not only has Burgos preselected its target group, it has a stable of campaigners who have worked on previous local mobility projects. Burgos has contracted 10 of them for the SmartMove AMC campaign, all PhD students at the University of Burgos. Each was tasked with contacting 25 workers and 25 students in the target group.

Although all the campaigners have very relevant experience, they were further trained in the SmartMove methodology. They received detailed information on local sustainable transport options, especially about buses, the local public bike-sharing system and local cycling infrastructure.

The campaign started by making contact via email and phone, which in Burgos was made easier due to existing databases containing addresses, phone numbers and, in many cases, the names of individuals. The goal was to make appointments for home visits, during which mobility agents will dispense “in-depth” information about the benefits of sustainable travel and how to use it.

According to the SmartMove methodology, gifts and printed information were offered. In Burgos, this includes free bus cards. According to José María Diez, local coordinator of SmartMove for Burgos City Council, previous mobility projects have shown that a major barrier to using buses is lack of basic knowledge.

“Many citizens don’t know how to start using the bus system, including the card”, Diez said. “If it is explained, they will realise that the whole procedure is extremely simple, and the first step – buying a bus card – will be solved if we provide them with one.”

Diez says that the more challenging target group are workers, because there are no plans to improve the frequency or adjust the timetables of the bus lines that connect G3 and the industrial zone. There is more luck with the students, who enjoy a greater offer in terms of bus connections.

At the same time, accompanying measures are also being organised, mainly at the university. Campaigners approach students in the cafeteria or at other meetings where students feel comfortable and open to suggestions and discussions. The project aims to reach a further 200 students through these interactions.

After the campaigns are finished in May, the SmartMove project will continue in Burgos with several active measures. These include a social media campaign, guided walking tours, and training sessions on the bus and bike-share systems and the local cycling network.