Smart Transport

Mobility hubs can boost active travel, says Imperial College London

Enterprise and Brompton Bike Hire mobility hub

Mobility hubs can positively impact modal shift to active and shared travel options, according to a new study by Imperial College London.

The study, in partnership with Enterprise and Brompton Bike Hire, found that employees offered free access to a car club or bicycle as an alternative to their own vehicle increased the total number of journeys made by bicycle (52% of total journeys) and other active travel (65% of trips) over an eight-week period.

Almost two thirds (63%) of those in the trial said that they planned to cycle more and 25% said they would be less likely to commute using their own car after the “positive” experience of using the mobility hub.

The hub at Imperial’s South Kensington campus featured two Enterprise Car Club vehicles, one electric and one hydrogen powered, plus 25 Brompton folding bikes including five electric bikes.

More than a third (38%) of participants in the study agreed that knowing they could pick up a zero-emission car-club vehicle at work made joining the mobility hub and commuting by bike an easy choice. A similar number said they would be willing to pay to use the mobility hub in the future.

Jonny Jackson, an Imperial College London research student who worked on the project said: “This is the first field trial that explores the real-world impact of mobility hubs on how people commute to work, and how they travel while at work.

“It indicates there is significant employee support for more active and sustainable modes of travel, as long as people have the security of access to a car or a bike when they really need one for a journey. We were especially interested to observe that many of those taking part in the trial were planning to continue to commute by bike or another active travel mode, and that they were open to paying for car club usage on campus.”

The trial was operated over a four-month period and allowed Imperial to assess the impact on staff travel patterns by giving people more choices for sustainable and active transport.

The hub also enabled Imperial researchers to examine how commuting patterns and day-to-day travel can be changed from relying on ownership to using shared transport.

Participating employees received free membership and use of Enterprise Car Club and Brompton Bikes for the duration of the pilot. Both cars and bikes were booked through the Enterprise Car Club app.

Ben Lawson, vice president for Mobility for Europe at Enterprise, added: “This trial provides us with the first data-led evidence that workplace mobility hubs can encourage shared and active travel among employees, both for business trips and the commute.

“We already have examples such as Highland Council showing the impact of employee car clubs on achieving more sustainable travel behaviours, which was included as a best practice example in the government’s recent Transport Decarbonisation Plan.

“Providing more active and zero-emission transport options can help organisations to guide their employees to the most sustainable travel choice and encourage them to leave a higher-emission privately-owned car at home. It is another example of how transport hubs that provide a range of zero-emission shared options for employee travel can shape a better future mobility ecosystem.”

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