October 18, 2011

Initial Community Engagement

Filed under: General,Project reports — dhiom @ 3:49 pm

An initial scoping consultation with University of Bristol staff took the form of 16 one-to-one interviews across a broad cross section of university employees. When asked about what considerations went into making travel choices the response from all but one interviewee was that cost was the main consideration.[1] It is probably worth noting that only two of the interviewees mentioned environmental concerns at all.  It is therefore extremely unlikely that these will ever outweigh cost concerns when planning travel.

Other considerations stated were:

  • Speed (particularly for more frequent travellers)
  • Timing
  • Convenience
  • Amount of accompanying baggage
  • Number of people travelling
  • Health and safety

Travel choices made by employees of the University already tend to be reasonably sustainable choices.  For example train is usually preferred over car travel unless there are extenuating circumstances such as the need to carry a large amount of baggage, making a rural trip without good transport links, or many people going to a single destination being able to car share.

Given that most travel conducted by the university already appears to be conducted in as sustainable manner as is reasonably possible, any changes to the travel behaviours themselves are unlikely to result in large environmental gains compared to the significant amount of effort required promoting these changes.

However a consistent comment across the University is that although substitution technologies such as video conferencing are used, their uptake remains limited. Therefore a decision was made to use a follow up university-wide survey to focus on alternatives to travel.


[1] The International Office was the only case where the personal safety and wellbeing of the employee was stated to be the highest consideration. This is probably because the interviewee was the head of the department and therefore had the safety of her employees explicitly in her mind in a way that travellers themselves might not, whilst intuitively avoiding options that would put themselves at risk.

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