|Environmental Limits to Motorisation (SKAT, 1993)|
|7. Towards model projects "Towns for cyclists" in the Third World|
In Germany, the creation of a bicycle-friendly climate was the result of a systematic campaign among the citizens. Opinion leaders like politicians, industrialists, businessmen, teachers, doctors, etc. were motivated to use the bicycle as a daily means of transport. This is important not only because of the "image effect", but also for the understanding. It is a fact that one has to experience cycling in order to understand its advantages and disadvantages.
In order to enhance these image-efforts, a "bicycle-office" was opened in all model-towns at a central location. This office was used as a centre for information, consultancy, participation and planning.
The local press was involved and was encouraged to publish regular information for and about cycling. Besides the regular "car supplements", special pages and features on NMT were introduced.
An important aspect was training on traffic safety, which aimed at creating a gentle climate for all the vulnerable road users. Schools, youth clubs and other voluntary organisations were harassed to provide training for junior cyclists, in co-operation with the local police.
7.3.1. Creating the software
It is thus important to create a positive climate for cycling by raising the image of the bicycle and discouraging the positive - often macho-type - image of car-driving or motorbike-riding. A public awareness strategy should therefore have a dual character: on the one hand it should make cycling and public transport popular and attribute higher status to it. On the other hand, it should exercise some negative pressure on those who use their cars excessively.
In a similar way as discouraging smoking, both the positive aspects of non-smoking were emphasised ("intelligent people don't smoke; have you ever kissed a non-smoker?"), as well as the disturbing and polluting side-effects of smoking. This strategy was quite successful, despite the strong vested interests of cigarette companies and even governments whose tax base was shrinking.
But the main emphasis must lie in a creative and innovative campaign for cycling, such as the one in Zurich, an excellent example because it was also thoroughly evaluated. The danger with such campaigns, however, is their limited impact if done just as one-time fireworks. It may be better to have a campaign with a lower profile for a long time, than one big show during a few weeks.
There is plenty of experience available of how to conceptualise such a campaign, especially in Switzerland and in the Netherlands. The success of the promotion campaigns for public transport and cycling in Basel and Zurich show the way. Both examples also show that a sustainable impact can only be achieved if the campaign is enhancing a serious and real effort of improvement of public transport and cycling, supported by restrictions on car use.
7.3.2. "Changing course": The company approach
It is of primary importance to reach opinion leaders and all other social groups, if the image of cycling and, public transport is to be raised. It is therefore pointless to target a cycling and public transport campaign at the poor only. But how can this be achieved, especially in the Third World?
It seems therefore promising to introduce bicycles to employees, but also for cargo transport through big firms and companies. These companies might well want to co-operate with high PR-profiles in order to polish their environmentally-friendly image, provided they do not continue to poison the environment.
Selling bicycles to their employees on a loan basis is an excellent way of making bicycles more accessible. Using tricycles if possible for their transport needs and integrating the bicycle not only as a means of transport into the company policy, but also in a sporty way for company picnics, etc., can give a new value to ecological means of transport.
If the management of a company can be actively involved in such a campaign as part of a real effort of "changing course" towards a more environmentally conscious company policy, then it begins to be possible to attain a paradigm shift also in transportation.
The recent publication "Changing Course" by the "Business Council for Sustainable Development" 190shows the need and also the possibilities for companies to adopt a market-oriented environmental policy. If companies can be motivated to initiate a sustainable and environment-friendly transport policy, then a breakthrough is possible. This is even more important, as it is in the own interest of private enterprise that their transport policy is sustainable. Innovative companies should easily be convinced of the need for discouraging and ending the inefficient use of cars for personal prestige: as they often pay the heavy costs caused by congestion, a shift towards NMT is entirely in their own interest.
Not only that: a company can save a lot of money also. Ciba-Geigy and Landis & Gyr191 in Switzerland have reduced the car parking space allotted to their employees and provide all facilities for those who come by bicycle, shower, cycle-parking, and even the bicycle, as it is much cheaper than to spare 25 m2 of expensive land for simply parking a car.