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The end of this month marks three years of South Essex Active Travel, which is a good opportunity for us to recap on some of the things that have been achieved since the project started in April 2017.
We have helped more than 2,000 people change their travel habits through the provision of targeted travel advice and a range of services to support people cycling, walking and using public transport. We have connected hundreds of jobseekers, students and newly recruited employees to the jobs, education and training opportunities available in south Essex.
In 2018, we carried out a successful rebranding exercise, with Ideas in Motion evolving into ForwardMotion. The rebrand included the launch of a new website and roll out of a new approach for influencing people’s travel behaviours, based on the latest insights from behavioural science.
Working with partner organisations has always been a central element of the project, so it has been fantastic working with large regional employers, such as Amazon in Tilbury, to reach hundreds of newly recruited employers and flexible workers. Through our partnership with local Jobcentre Plus offices in south Essex we have enabled over 600 people across south Essex to reach job interviews and jobs, providing individuals with targeted travel advice, bikes and bus passes.
In 2019, we provided funding for voluntary and third sector organisations to deliver locally based services in 2019-20 that meet the project’s objectives. Grants were awarded to nine different organisations, for ten different projects, ranging from the creation of a cycle hub, the ‘Old Spokes Home’, to an artwork project about active travel.
We have delivered nine active travel challenges, which have encouraged people to try out active travel. Challenges have included inviting people to ‘Trial A Mile’, where people were asked to swap just one journey by car to one made by public transport, by bike, or on foot. Our recent Festive Travel, Try January and Spring Clean your Journey challenges have led to over 60 different organisations encouraging their employees, students and trainees to change just one journey during December, January and March, and over 120 individuals trialling a different way of travelling.
We have created two new cycle hubs – the Cycle Hub Thurrock in Tilbury and the Cycle Hub Mobile, which we have taken to roadshows across south Essex. We have organised roadshows outside training centres and colleges and in town centres, including Basildon, Grays and Southend-on-Sea. Our travel engagement officers at the roadshows were on hand to provide targeted travel advice.
With the Department for Transport awarding South Essex Active Travel a funding extension for 2020/21 at the beginning of the year, we are looking forward to changing a lot more people’s lives in the south Essex area.