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Movement: can transport and tourism be sustainable?

[More from the DOTT 07 project's amazing book Wouldn't It Be Great If.... -Alex]

The movement of people and goods around the world consumes vast amounts of matter, energy, space and time. Could transport intensity be separated from economic progress - and, if so, how?

People are badly informed about existing public transport services: we overestimate by 70% the potential length of a journey by public transport - and underestimate the length of a car journey by 26% 4

Move Me: could we get where we need to go without new cars and roads?

Wouldn't it be great if... we could go where we need to go using transport options that already exist but are under-used? No car? No problem!

How we move in Scremerston

The Move Me project centred on Scremerston First School in Northumberland. Three miles from Berwick, this small school is a daily hub for 42 children and 34 families. It also has 11 members of staff, including full- and part-time teachers, cleaning, catering and janitorial staff, and is led by an enthusiastic head teacher, Helen Harrison, who was keen for the school to be fully involved in the project.

The school's many and varied transport needs made it an excellent test case for Dott 07. The project looked at the school community's mobility needs and explored how they could be better served by combining existing services in smarter ways - for example, the planning of integrated journeys, vehicle sharing, or better use of community vehicles such as minibuses. Ultimately, the project team aimed to design a reliable and sustainable transport service that would help this particular rural community and also provide a model that would work elsewhere.

The project was linked to a wider initiative called RAMP (Rural Access and Mobility Project), which looked at a similar set of issues in the field of healthcare access. Move Me was an excellent opportunity to apply some of the findings from RAMP to a new group of users.

Transport accounts for 20% of the average school's carbon footprint

Newcastle was rated the noisiest urban area in England, with traffic noise measured at 80.4 decibels. That's like a loud alarm clock constantly ringing in a person's ear

How does Move Me work?

The Move Me project team began by gathering insights from the Scremerston community. David Townson and Richard Telford from live|work, the design and innovation company producing Move Me, developed travel activity packs for the pupils of Scremerston First School to help build a picture of how and why they travelled the way they did.

The packs included seven short tasks, including 'Me and my family - tell us about you and who you live with', 'I like to go... - tell us about places you enjoy going to outside of school time' and 'Interview a parent - ask a parent questions all about travel'. Pupils took the packs home and filled them in with the help of their parents. Feedback from the activity packs included the following revelations:

  • Most pupils are driven to school either because the bus doesn't go to their area or they live too far away.
  • 72% of parents thought the school should encourage less use of cars for school journeys.
  • 57% of parents never take the children of other families to school.
  • 69% of parents who never take children from other families to school would consider it.

Major problem areas included: infrequency of buses; the limited service of the current school bus run; the expense of taxis; unfair fares; and confusing public transport timeg to and from schools, afterschool clubs, Sure Start classes, dental appointments atables. The questions also unearthed a variety of individual problems with gettinnd the town facilities at Berwick, such as clinics and shops.

Having gathered the information, the live|work team started to develop solutions that would not involve putting any new vehicles on the road. In April, they met with the community to discuss their ideas and highlight their own solutions.

Two early solutions were developed from the initial research:

  • Improve existing bus services. Arriva, a local bus provider, worked with live|work and the community to improve its service by introducing a new user-friendly, colour-coded bus timetable.
  • Create a toolkit for service providers: the kit consists of a number of simple paper-based tools that aim to help providers increase the number of people accessing their service by making it easier to get there.

LiftExchangeCard.jpgProviders are able to set up a lift-sharing scheme that encourages people to offer and request lifts to their venue. It is hoped that this 'offline' scheme will complement the Northumberland Car Share site and ultimately lead to increased use of this currently under-used community resource.

The Move Me team took its liftshare toolkit to community class leaders over the summer and it is currently being trialled with over 2000 people through working with Scremerston First School, Sure Start Berwick Borough (who provide support to parents and children) and Berwick Community Centre (who run adult education classes).

The team also visited Scremerston First School over the summer to work with children on completing the design activity they had started in January when they filled in their travel packs. The results were shared with the children, who were encouraged to design posters illustrating the advantages of sharing lifts, riding their bikes to school and taking the bus.

HelenHarrisonSchoolInformat.jpgHelen Harrison
Head teacher, Scremerston First School in Northumberland

What would a better transport system mean for the school?

'Small schools in Northumberland are a hub for the villages, not just for the children but for everyone who lives here. Improved access and easier transport could ultimately increase numbers at the school and increase the viability of our small, but highly rated, school. We have lost children due to the poor transport links.

'Currently, we have one particularly gifted child who lives outside the catchment area. The family doesn't have a car and aren't very well off, so they need to take a taxi to get to the school. They don't want to move school, but may have to because of the expense. And we didn't see one boy in pre-school for two weeks because his father's car broke down and he couldn't get him here any other way.'

What changes would you like to see?

'I would want to see the children have broader and richer cultural experiences through being able to access places such as the theatre, sports centre, drama groups and places of interest such as Holy Island.

'Generally, I would like to see them getting more education outside of the school. Being from a village and growing up here shouldn't mean that you can't experience other things.'

What difference would it make to the life of the village?

'Better transport to the village would probably increase the number of people living here. People are understandably put off because there's no shop or pub. 'More people would mean more children at the school, but would also mean a more vibrant life here for everybody.'

What next?

'Move Me' project outcomes include a toolkit for transport providers who wish to improve access to their services. The toolkit includes 'Lift Exchange' cards, 'Activity Templates' for notice boards, and personalised 'My Timetable' forms.

The lessons of Move Me, whch was led by live|work, will also feed into the Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP) which fosters sustainable approaches to rural transport in the North East.

For more information, go to or email Laura Lomax on laura =AT= livework =DOT= co =DOT= uk

Other useful websites include:

Northumberland Car Share

Sustrans, UK sustainable transport charity

Lift Share Car sharing schemes for communities

Car share services

Go Loco Service on Facebook that helps people share rides between friends, neighbours, and colleagues and share trip costs online)

New Mobility 177 Ideas for Sustainable Transportation index.htm

Sustainable Transportation sustainable_transportation

Time Pollution essay by John Whitelegg resources/freesources/polluti.htm 22 / 23

From December 1-14, 2007, WorldChanging will be featuring articles from Dott 07 (Designs of the time 2007), a year of community projects, events and exhibitions based in North East England, explored what life in a sustainable region could be like -- and how design can help us get there.

Click here to read the introduction to the series, "Dott 07: a new industrial revolution."

A national initiative of the Design Council and the regional development agency One NorthEast, Dott 07 is the first in a 10-year programme of biennial events developed by the Design Council that will take place across the UK. The projects were small but important real-life examples of sustainable living, which will evolve and multiply in the years ahead. Several projects were delivered in partnership with Culture10, based at NewcastleGateshead Initiative. Culture10 manages North East England's world-class festival and events programme.

Dott 07 projects aim to improve five aspects of daily life: movement, health, food, school and energy. The focus of the initiative was on grassroots community projects; but there were also projects involving more than 70 schools, plus exhibitions and events in museums, galleries and rural sites. All events explore how design can improve our lives in meaningful ways.

The year culminated in a free 12-day Dott 07 Festival in Baltic Square on the banks of the River Tyne. It brought together the results of the projects and enabled all those involved to share experiences and plan what to do next. Outstanding achievements were celebrated in the Creative Community Awards. Above all, the festival was an opportunity for many more people to find out how to participate in similar projects - and thereby accelerate the region's transition to sustainability.

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