Business engagement

This is generally an easier prospect in many ways than engaging with the community, primarily because there are significant benefits to be had in meeting Corporate Social Responsibility requirements and policies. In addition, promoting more sustainable and active travel modes is seen as helping to promote a healthier and more productive workforce. Outlined here are some suggestions to develop engagement opportunities with businesses, key considerations are costs and resources required/available to deliver.

Develop partnerships with/build business network(s) in your area

Chambers of Commerce and other business networking groups have close relationships with their members. By involving these groups at an early stage of any project (not necessarily just business engagement-focussed) will ensure their support and, crucially, a wider audience for your message. As key stakeholders, engaging with these groups will help to ensure successful delivery of projects.

North Bristol SusCom is a group of leading employers, from a range of sectors, working together to reduce congestion and enable the growth of sustainable transport in the North Bristol area. They know that combatting traffic congestion and increasing the viability of walking, cycling and public transport is vital for the long-term prosperity of their businesses and the health and wellbeing of their 45,000+ employees and 30,000 students.

North Bristol SusCom works strategically with regional and national partners to attract investment for sustainable transport and support the development of a fully-integrated, multi-modal transport network for North Bristol. They also work to achieve mode shift within their own businesses by supporting their employees to use sustainable modes and managing their transport impact.

The Group has worked closely with South Gloucestershire and the West of England local authorities to develop and deliver a range of behaviour change projects funded through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund and Access Fund over the past few years. They have helped ensure that the behaviour change projects and activities being developed meet employer needs and that the employers take up the offers. Projects include an annual travel to work survey, annual commuter challenge, emergency cycle repair kits, employer grants, active travel champions and EV charging grants.

The Greater Manchester GMEV project planned to deliver a series of engagement events directed at organisations and the general public. The project engaged at an early stage with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, which helped develop and market the events in consultation with their members. This input has ensured the buy in and promotional power of the Chamber and its access to members as well as helping to develop a strong relationship between GMEV and the Chamber.

Engaging directly with businesses and their employees is an effective way to achieve good results and reach a large and often very receptive audience.

The Travelwest programme is a good example of an effective engagement strategy which is built around a web platform that provides information about all the available active and sustainable travel modes, including a journey planner app. In addition the Travelwest team delivers dedicated business engagement activities through an in-house business engagement team and sustainable travel roadshow provision. The team also runs a series of annual activities designed to promote commuter travel behaviour change. The activities include:

  • an annual travel to work survey, this provides useful baseline data for employers on staff travel habits (including where there is demand for new and improved facilities) and enables the Travelwest team to identify how successful past measures have been
  • the annual commuter challenge, where individuals are rewarded for their efforts to commute by more sustainable modes
  • annual travel awards, which reward employers and individuals for their efforts to promote more sustainable and active travel habits
  • the provision of 50% match-funded grants to enable employers to promote activities designed to reduce single-occupancy vehicle commuting.


More in the toolkit…