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People Power! Getting Around the eco-friendly way

People Power! Getting Around the eco-friendly way


Getting Around
Wlgtn liaison team
Click to enlarge

(L-R) John Parker from Newtown, Tessa Coppard from Island Bay, Fey Valiant from Wilton and Seth Hickling from Hataitai outside the eco house, Newtown.

MEDIA RELEASE

For immediate release
Thursday 17 January 2008

People Power! Getting Around the eco-friendly way

Is the price of petrol too much to bear? Are you concerned about climate change? Is more exercise on your New Year resolution list? Then you need the Getting Around Wellington team.

Over the next four months a small team of trained liaison workers will be talking to people in Wellington’s southern and eastern suburbs about their transport habits, with the aim of reducing car-use and carbon emissions. Emissions from private car-use make up 40% of NZ’s total CO2 emissions.

The project is a partnership between local NGO The Sustainability Trust, and Wellington City Council, with funding from the Ministry for the Environment.

Travel behaviour change is the international buzz word in modern urban transport planning. Governments in the US, UK and Australia have run highly successful projects since the 1990’s based on the simple idea that talking one-on-one with individuals is the most effective way to make them aware of their travel options, and make better choices like walking, cycling, car pooling and taking public transport.

“Individual conversations usually last 10 minutes, but some people like to talk for longer!” says liaison worker Tessa Coppard. “The great thing is when you really connect with someone who really wants help to find alternative ways to travel that actually work for them.” Specific feedback is then given to inform them of ways they might reduce their car use; available services are discussed, timetable and route details are outlined.

The five-person liaison team has been working at outdoor summer events as well as libraries and recreation centres to meet people who want to make changes to their travel behaviour. So far, the response has been overwhelming, with over 250 people contacted in just 2 months. “We aim to engage with at least 700 individuals before the project ends – and hopefully most of them will change at least one journey a week and reduce their car trips,” says project leader Lee Barry. “If we can encourage people to break their car habit with one small change, we are well on the way to re-thinking our car dependant culture”. But the focus must be on benefits for the individual - “people change when they are ready and when the alternative is attractive and easy, not when it makes life harder – we’re not into adding pressure to already busy lives!”

Benefits gained from leaving the car at home are varied – exercise and savings on fuel are obvious says Lee, but there are hidden rewards like enhanced connection with the community and safer streets.

The team will be running weekly public workshops in local community centres – the next one is on January 22 at 6.30pm at Kilbirnie Community Centre. They can also arrange group travel advice sessions for churches, clubs or schools, as well as individuals. For more information see www.gettingaround.co.nz or call 04 389 3401.

ENDS

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