State of the Environment Report 2007 

Snapshot: TravelSmart Belconnen – a moving story 

Travel takes us where we want to be: our goods and services travel too. Travel has many benefits, but also has costs and consequences relating to time and energy, the environment, health, and other things like accidents with various social and economic costs.

Canberra’s key issue is our car dependance with 81% of Canberrans using the car to get to and from work. 23.5% of our greenhouse emissions profile relates to transport.

Travelsmart Belconnen took place between August 2006 and April 2007 as part of the National Travel Behaviour Change Project—seeking to make travel’s costs evident and to better inform choice. The national program seeks benefits through lower greenhouse gas emissions and, as well as this, the ACT sought benefit through encouraging healthier, more sustainable ways of travel such as walking, cycling and bus use.

This nationwide program focuses on direct interaction with people in target areas, helping them to think about their transport needs and how these could be met in different ways (in accord with what is, or could be, available in each area studied). The underlying premise is that people often travel by habitual means, not knowing of alternatives: better knowledge can lead to behaviour change with both personal and society-wide benefits.

Canberra’s program covered much of north and west Belconnen with 11,000 households contacted. 43% agreed to take part (higher than in projects elsewhere); the TravelSmart team then discussed with participants their travel patterns and how they might reduce their car use.
Outcomes were positive: car travel was cut by 12.7% and participants believed they had made personal gains in terms of monetary savings (42%), health (40%), environment (11%) and time (3%). Other social benefits arise from reduced traffic and parking congestion, fewer accidents and reduced pollution.

Lessons learnt for future activities included the need for good training for TravelSmart fieldworkers, better links to stakeholders (like ACTION and Pedal Power), and better-tailored material/guides. A full-time TravelSmart community person seems warranted.

For people to have a real choice amongst travel options the ACT Government should continue to pay attention to the needs of walkers, cyclists and bus-riders and to long-term city design issues including the relative location of living, working and other facilities. Interaction is required between travelers and those who provide options via roads, paths, busways and technologies.

The problem won’t go away. We know we must cut greenhouse and other pollution, including noise, deal with parking pressures, and counter threats from pollution and lack of exercise. Travel Smart Belconnen, and its future analogues, form part of the solution, educating and empowering transport users and providers, and benefiting all things consequential to travel and transport including social, environmental and economic considerations—the sustainability mix. 

living sustainably

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