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A talk with our Sustainable Travel Consultant

Published on: 19/10/2018

Meet our sustainable Travel Consultant, Veronica Reynolds

One of the leading concerns at MEPC and Milton Park is to encourage and simplify sustainable travel to, from and across the park. Solutions have come in many forms – from walking and cycling to our popular lift share and bike hire schemes. Heading it up has been our sustainable travel consultant, Veronica Reynolds.

 

Veronica Reynolds works alongside us as part of Vectos, a transport consultancy specialising in in sustainable transport planning and development.

 

We chatted to Veronica about sustainable travel at the park and what the future holds.

 

When did you first become interested in sustainable travel?

My background is in health and physical activity promotion, focusing on how walking and cycling for health prevents chronic disease. I trained GPs on how to promote physical activity, with a focus on behavioural change.

 

Behavioural change is also a major factor of sustainable travel. and I found that It’s well documented that those who meet government guidelines for physical activity are also those who commute actively using sustainable methods. It’s a great way to help get people fitter and healthier.

 

What do you find has worked well in encouraging sustainable travel at Milton Park?

I have found that emphasising the health benefits is a good way to promote active travel. The more we do to encourage sustainable travel, the happier and healthier the  workplace is, and adapting this to a micro environment like Milton Park is very satisfying.

 

Driving can be a large contributor to overall stress – We feel stressed when we are in a situation we have no control over, such as when we’re in a traffic jam or delayed by factors we can’t change.  This leads to stress and, in the long term, chronic stress, which is associated with a host of chronic diseases from mental health problems to cardio-vascular problems. 

 

Our focus has been to encourage everyone to make small, manageable changes where and when they can.  Collectively, these small changes have a large impact on congestion into and on the Park, significantly reducing the number of cars and improving the air quality.  

 

Milton Park have recently updated their car share and bike share systems to Faxi and Donkey Republic - could you speak more on why these apps were chosen and the benefits they can bring to the customers at Milton Park?

The technology used for the Faxi app enables real-time car pooling and is also more intuitive and interactive. The new app can be linked to a points system, unlocking rewards such as preferential parking. This makes lift sharing even more rewarding and useful – with the positive effect of significantly reducing numbers of cars on the car park.

 

Our bike hire scheme, using Donkey Republic software and Bainton Bikes, really is state of the art – we wanted to introduce a dockless bike share scheme so it can be as flexible as possible.

 

We have found the Donkey Republic app is incredibly easy to use, and the system makes it fast and easy to sign up. We are now happy to provide free bike hire to all our occupiers through the app.

Using a local bike supplier for procurement and maintenance, Bainton Bikes, appeals to us as we relish any opportunity to work alongside local companies.

 

We have seen occupiers use the sturdy bikes to get around the park - coworking and inter-company working happens a lot on the park and this makes transport between offices much easier and faster. 

 

We have found all of the bikes are used every day, and we will be adding more bikes to the fleet soon – including electric bikes!

 

Part two

How have the popular Milton Park Travel forums helped with encouraging sustainable travel to and around the Park?

The Travel Forum has been a great way of getting more people involved with improving travel to and from Milton Park.

 

We currently meet 4 times a year, and the Forum has representatives from 55 companies. Every meeting we collect new suggestions for improvements, such as improving the cycling infrastructure and improving the bus scheduling.  

 

We are starting to prove ourselves as a powerful force for direct campaigning. Local and regional government is more likely to listen to a collective voice of a group of businesses, especially where transport issues have a direct impact on the local, regional and national economy.

 

What sustainable/green travel plans does Milton Park have in the future?

The Milton 2040 initial survey has identified that mobility is THE key issue at the park, raising the stakes and telling us loud and clear that we need to address this. Mobility patterns are changing and the younger generations are choosing not to drive or own cars.  In addition, we have a responsibility to reduce the number of single occupancy cars coming to Milton Park as they have a real health and economic impact on the whole population.  The 2040 Vision has given the whole mobility agenda a renewed focus, pushing us to identify some quick wins and some solutions to the immediate issues concerning congestion around Milton Park.

 

We will continue to improve the cycling infrastructure across the park and continue to push local councillors and authorities for improvements around the park. 

 

The most exciting travel development across the park is the autonomous vehicle project, the first of its kind across the UK, which is launching soon. This will eventually link the park with Didcot Station and, in time, will have many benefits such as lower running costs and more flexibility in the shuttle services to main areas of housing.

 

As the park moves forward, we see more of our occupiers working both flexible and shift hours. It is our responsibility to respond to a new form of working in the science and tech industries.

 

We want to be leaders in exciting technological solutions for sustainable travel, and the autonomous vehicle project is the start of a very exciting future!

 

What big changes do you believe should happen country wide to get more people into sustainable travel?

I believe cycling still has a major role to play now and in the future of sustainable travel.  As we engineer more and more physical activity out of our lives, cycling (and walking) can replace the activity we are losing to other new labour-saving technologies.  For many journeys, it is the quickest, healthiest and most sustainable form of travel ever invented. I am delighted to see the current cultural resurgence and I just hope that we will see many more women cycling in years to come.  At the moment, it seems to be a ‘sport’ that is quite male-dominated in this country.  I’d like to see more everyday, utility cycling.

 

The more we invest in cycling infrastructure in urban areas of the UK and make cycling safer, the more people we can encourage.

 

We have to be careful to make sure cycling is encouraged across demographics and made accessible to all – there are dangers of the transport getting hijacked by the ‘men in lycra’ stereotype.

 

Cycle safety and encouraging use of electric bikes is certainly part of the solution, and will change us into a happier, healthier nation.

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