Car Busters 25, Oct-Dec 2005

Dear Anna
Commuting to my work by car is driving me crazy! I sit in traffic and look around at all the other loney faces, one person to a car, and what to know how I can get myself out of this traffic-cloggesd mess.
Frustrated Commuter

Dear Frustrated Commuter
Commuting trips are first journeys and so crucial in determining travel patterns for the rest of the day.

The choice involves two players - the individual worker and the company. There is also an interaction with business travel and child drop offs.

A personal decision is "How can I access appropriate work and a living wage?" Make sure you are not working to drive! Getting rid of a car could save a days net wages weekly.

I used to commute 40 miles by train. As well as an hour each way, the first paid hour had to cover the fare! Not efficient, even if I did read en route. I am now self employed locally. It's so convenient.

Home production includes telework by phone, text, letter, email or web as well as child care, bed and breakfast and writing.

Or else choose local employment. Could changing jobs or moving closer to work be desirable? There might be a re-location deal to help cover costs. Choose your job according to the whole pay / prospects / quality of life deal including accessibility and business driving levels. Favour sites with links to cycle/walking routes or public transport.

Shift workers often find sustainable travel tricky. Ideally choose core hours if you want to use public transport.

Many commuters need to drop off at childcare/school. Choose these close by or en route, or get stuck in peak congestion. Could your kids travel independently on a walking or cycling bus organised by school or with a childminder or another parent?

Smart employers make a massive impact with an active workplace travel plan. Motivated by the costs of parking space, plan elements include home working, tele- or video-conferencing, compressed working (doing hours ahead for a day off), flexi-time, a car club, pool cars and organised car sharing with taxi back up. Also allowances for delivery and green travel, such as cycle allowances, public transport discount cards or a green traveller lottery for cash. Plus appropriate bike parking, travel information, visitor maps with non car directions, priority parking for car sharers, folding bikes, interest free travel loans, lockers, showers, on site facilities (e.g. kitchen, canteen, nursery, cash machine), park and ride etc. To work well, the plan must be run by a half time employee per 500 staff.

The firm must not discriminate against non drivers or give drivers perks or higher allowances than non-car users. To properly allocate space there must be car parking permits and charges, even cash back to those who give up parking rights. Research funded by the UK Department of Transport found travel plans encouraged an average of 18% of drivers to change how they travelled to work.

Individual marketing is the gold standard. Also called individualised travel planning this is where a travel for work expert helps each employee work out alternatives to single car commuting, providing maps and the appropriate routes to walk, cycle, public transport times and costs or finds a lift sharer. This makes choices easy and transparent.

Workplace car clubs are effective in replacing company cars and cut the need for car commuting. Figures from the MOSES (Mobility Services for Urban Sustainability) Report in 2005 taken from German and Swedish examples are interesting. Following the introduction of a car club, employees reduced private car use for work purposes by 40-60%. Although the overall mileage did not fall, because car club cars tend to be smaller and newer there was a reduction in CO2 emissions of 40-50%.

A car club tackles the main reason given for car commuting - that the car is needed for work. 30% of employees drove to work less since the introduction of the car club.

Flexi-time is so helpful. You can then fit your hours around public transport timetables. And if the bus or train is late there is no problem. I sometimes wait for a rain shower to pass or decide against travel if dangerous ice is on the roads or cycle paths.

Organised car sharing schemes reduce cars on site. Matching is by car share databases (e.g. council websites or, written adverts or can be organised with a map and staff marking routes. The high tech method is geographic mapping of postcodes (GIS systems).

Whilst the exercise is healthy, cyclists and walkers sometimes arrive wet or sweaty. Bring or keep spare clothes at work to change into, especially if there are high dress for work requirements. Remember you are saving on gym/ exercise classfees and time with active travel. And you're not breathing in the concentrated pollution at the centre of the road. Car users breathe in three times the toxins of walkers or cyclists.

Good luck. By cutting your car use you'll save money, be healthy and green!

Anna Semlyen is the author of Cutting Your Car Use ( Sales 58,000+ She is actively seeking publishers and potential autors in other countries to produce local edtions (except North America) Interested?E-mail We are actively looking for publishers and authors in other countries (except North America). Email

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