A Good Transport Plan for Bristol: A Work Placement exploring responses & reactions
31st May 2016
Currently undertaking a work placement with Bristol Green Capital Partnership CIC as part of a University of the West of England MSc in Sustainable Development in Practice, Evelien Fiselier shares her experience so far and invites your participation in a study on 'A Good Transport Plan for Bristol' that was launched earlier this year.
"It has been a few months since the Good Transport Plan for Bristol was launched. So what is happening now? To what extent is the plan continuing to bring people, who have different ideas about transport, together? In the first few months of publication, has the plan had any influence on the way residents commute to work? Are readers of the plan actively making plans to help realise its vision to create an integrated and sustainable transport network - as individuals and within their own organisations. If not, what further actions would help to support this? What should be the next steps? These are all questions that have been on my mind the last couple of weeks. Trying to explore these questions, amongst others, is what my study is about.
My name is Evelien and I am a Dutch postgraduate student at the University of the West of England studying the MSc Sustainable Development in Practice. As part of the study programme, students have to arrange a placement, which offers a learning experience in any topic related to sustainability varying from energy saving and renewable energies, to reducing food waste and growing your own food in community gardens. I am particularly interested in finding out how we can inspire people to change their behaviour regarding travelling and tourism in order to reduce CO2 emissions. My passion for sustainable travel led me to finding a research placement at Bristol Green Capital Partnership Community Interest Company with a focus on the Good Transport Plan.
The placement ties in perfectly with my course as it is mainly about driving change towards sustainability on an individual, organisational or societal level. As many academics argue, changing people’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviours is a complex matter, especially in the context of climate change and travel behaviour where there is a lot of resistance to change. Some researchers propose that resistance to changing travel behaviour arises from the fact that driving a car has become a habit, which is hard to break, whilst others emphasise the importance of identity, which manifests itself in people wanting to express who they are as a person through the vehicle that they possess. There are many more reasons for why attempts to changing mobility behaviours might not have the desired outcomes - and perceived external factors will be highlighted in my study.
It may be too early to draw conclusions about the extent to which the Good Transport Plan has been effective in changing people’s behaviour and to identify which complications and factors have presented themselves since it's publication. My placement will, however, serve as a starting point for monitoring how the plan is shared, promoted, and the initial responses and reactions received by a sample of individuals from the public, from organisations within Bristol Green Capital Partnership, and as community or business leaders concerned about active travel and sustainable transport in Bristol.
The aim of the research is to get an insight into how individuals and organisations within Bristol react and respond to the plan. A series of interviews have been conducted with a range of organisations within Bristol, and questionnaires have been used to survey responses from visitors of the City Ideas Transport Exhibition at the Architecture Centre. In addition to this, an online questionnaire has been launched which can be accessed by anyone until the 5th of June via this link: https://uwe.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/goodtransportplan.
Finally, my study proposes is to talk to representatives from Neighbourhood Partnerships to explore views from different locations across the city.
So what is the outcome of this study, you may ask? When having collected all the information I will write a report for Bristol Green Capital Partnership CIC, Sustrans and for the members of the Partnership's Sustainable Transport Group that is Chaired by Sustrans, which includes representatives from businesses, public transport, universities, local charities, community groups and social enterprises who are all working towards the objectives of the Good Transport Plan. The report will highlight the responses to the plan and suggestions received on what the survey participants consider to be additional actions or motivations that would help to make the plan’s vision a reality. This information can support future work programmes from the Bristol Green Capital Partnership CIC, Sustrans, the Sustainable Transport Group and member organisations of the Partnership network as they respond to the needs of residents and organisations regarding the transport network - and in the long run facilitate the change to a city where the norm is to travel sustainably by walking, cycling, using public transport and using electric vehicles.
If you have any questions about the research or would like to know a bit more about it, please contact me on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of the West of England MSc in Sustainable Development in Practice is a hands-on practical course that focuses on the urgent challenges organisations, communities and government face in bringing about sustainable change in individual behaviour, business practice and wider society. Work Placements are an invaluable approach to practice-based learning - providing students the opportunity to work on real-life sustainability projects whilst also offering organisations in Bristol an opportunity to benefit from the skills of students in support of their work.