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Active Travel: Securing stakeholder buy-in and encouraging participation from diverse communities

In the quest to build healthier, more sustainable urban environments, promoting active travel – such as walking, cycling, and other forms of non-motorised transportation – has become a key focus for many cities around the UK. However, the success of these initiatives hinges not only on planning and infrastructure but also on securing buy-in from stakeholders and encouraging participation across diverse communities. You can read more in our recent paper regarding the challenges of engaging on active travel schemes here.

To engage stakeholders effectively and foster widespread adoption of active travel options, authorities developing active travel plans can secure stakeholder buy-in and encourage active travel participation from diverse communities by undertaking the following steps:

Understanding the stakeholder landscape.

The first step in securing stakeholder buy-in is identifying who active travel stakeholders are. Local and regional stakeholders can range from local government departments and transport authorities to local businesses, schools, community groups, and residents. Each group has its own interests and concerns regarding active travel. For instance, local businesses might worry about how reduced car traffic could affect customer access, while residents might be concerned about safety and convenience.

Building a collaborative framework.

Once stakeholders are identified, the next step is to create a collaborative framework that allows for open dialogue and shared decision-making. This can be achieved through workshops, public meetings, and public consultations. It’s crucial that these approaches are accessible and inclusive, ensuring representation from all groups within the community, especially those that are often underrepresented such as minority and low-income groups.

Highlighting the Benefits.

For stakeholders to truly buy into active travel initiatives, they need to see the benefits clearly outlined. This includes not just the health and environmental advantages but also economic benefits such as increased local retail traffic and improved property values. Tailored messages that address specific stakeholder concerns can help make the case more compelling. For example, demonstrating how bike lanes have boosted business in other cities can sway local merchants.

Addressing challenges and concerns.

Stakeholder concerns must be acknowledged and addressed directly. This might involve discussing how active travel initiatives can coexist with existing transport infrastructure, how safety will be ensured, and how the changes will be implemented gradually to allow adjustment. Providing clear, data-driven responses and potential solutions to issues raised can help alleviate fears and build trust.

Incentivising participation.

To encourage participation from diverse communities, cities can introduce incentives. These could be physical, like improving infrastructure, providing bike-share programmes, or economic incentives such as subsidies for bicycles. Educational campaigns that teach biking safety and the benefits of active travel can also help increase participation rates.

Leveraging community leaders.

Involving community leaders and influencers can amplify the reach and impact of active travel campaigns. Leaders from within the community can act as champions for the cause, providing a trusted voice that resonates more authentically with residents. This can be particularly effective in communities that might be sceptical of government-led initiatives.

Monitoring, feedback, and adaptation.

Finally, ongoing monitoring and soliciting feedback is essential to ensure that active travel initiatives meet the needs of the community and adjust to changing dynamics. Regularly updating stakeholders on the progress of these initiatives and making adjustments based on community feedback helps maintain support and engagement.

In conclusion, securing stakeholder buy-in and encouraging active travel participation from diverse communities requires a multifaceted approach that includes understanding stakeholder dynamics, collaborative planning, clear communication of benefits, direct addressing of concerns, tailored incentives, community involvement, and adaptive management. By following these steps, authorities can ensure that active travel becomes a valued part of urban life, enjoyed, and supported by everyone in the community.

Our job at the Consultation Institute is to help local authorities across the country build that transport vision, one that is developed for future generations, and it is a task that we are excited to help you deliver. We play a vital role in supporting your active travel schemes by providing expert guidance, tailored strategies, benchmarking and evaluation, training and capacity building, knowledge sharing, and advocacy efforts. Our expertise and resources can help ensure that engagement processes related to active travel are robust, inclusive, and effective in achieving desired outcomes for communities and stakeholders.

Speak with a member of the team today by calling 01767 318350 or email us to find out how we can support you develop and deliver meaningful and effective active travel engagement.

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