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EU Mobility Week – ‘a nudge in the right direction’ towards a sustainable school run

Image: European Mobility Week (via X)

Giving youngsters, parents and teachers ‘a nudge in the right direction’ is behind the success of a Swedish city’s initiative to promote a sustainable school run.

Using behavioural science, online platform Nudgd says it is revolutionising how students, parents and teachers in Helsingborg think about and choose sustainable travel habits.

It has resulted in Nudgd being named winner of the latest prestigious EU MOBILITYACTION Award, part of the annual EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK awards held to recognise outstanding achievements in sustainable travel.

Nudgd puts its success down to ‘leveraging behavioural science’ – which can be defined as the study of human behaviour through experimenting & observing – which in this project involved some 2,400 parents, guardians and school personnel at 25 schools.

Through a combination of smart tips, interactive maps and quizzes, they were gently ‘nudged’ – or given subtle guidance – to engage their interest in and show off the benefits of active commuting. Nudgd says that during the pilot phase, almost 40 per cent of those taking part changed or indicated a desire to change to a more active mode of transport.

Cycling is an obvious candidate as one of the more sustainable routes to and from school, and so it is that the Nudgd platform also supports Helsingborg’s goals to step up its cycling infrastructure, as part of a drive to promoting safer, more sustainable travel.

Ola Rynge, together with Emma Kangas, project manager at the City of Helsingborg’s environmental administration, receive the MOBILITYACTION Award.

Nudgd said: “By applying nudging principles, we have created a powerful change in travel behavior, which has contributed to more sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility within the school world.

“Receiving the Mobility Action Award is an important milestone that not only recognises the work we have carried out but also underscores our determination to continue developing and implementing solutions that make it easier for people to make sustainable choices.”

Also commended in this category was the German rail passenger transport operator, Nahverkehrsgesellschaft Baden-Württemberg mbH, for its efforts to ’empower’ students across the state of Baden-Württemberg to travel to school more safely through the MOVERS – Active to School scheme. Supported by the local government’s transport ministry, it has been encouraging students to take part in a Germany-wide cycle-to-school, competition.

‘A powerful change in travel behaviour’

The winner of the overall EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award 2023 went to the Hungarian capital, Budapest, for its car-free weekend held last September. It also held a public event to promote best practice in walking and cycling policies.

The awards ceremony in Brussels, which recognised projects and activities carried out in 2023, also included a mention for the rise of ‘school streets’ in the Belgian capital. Highlighting how seven per cent of all primary and nursery schools in the city are now on ‘school streets’, it posed the question: How can we improve street safety?

Adina Vălean, European Commissioner for Transport, said: I applaud this year’s winners and finalists for their truly innovative thinking in saving energy through mobility, redesigning the public space in creative ways, as well as the online space. Cities are our best laboratories for the mobility of tomorrow.

She also paid tribute to the eight Ukrainian towns and cities that participated in the 2023 European Mobility Week, adding: “My thoughts are with all the other Ukrainian towns and cities (76) that have taken part in previous European Mobility Weeks. I hope they will soon be able to join again.”

Author: Simon Weedy

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