One Small Step Towards Active Travel

Published: 03 October 2019

As we head into another Olympic year, we look at how to help the general population to become more active.

As any good athlete will tell you, an effective training regime needs to be tailormade for your own specific needs and goals.

As we head towards another Olympic year, conversations will undoubtedly turn towards the impact Tokyo 2020 will have on the people of Japan. Seven years ago, the same conversations were being had about how to galvanise the ‘Olympic effect’ in London to persuade ordinary people to become more active. While sporting heroes such as Jess Ennis and Mo Farah were deep into their training programmes, discussions swirled about the benefits London 2012 would bring to the wider population.

Getting people to travel more actively was a solution which would simultaneously ease congestion on Britain’s roads, and bring health benefits. Southend-On-Sea Borough Council won funding from the Department for Transport to put this into practice and Linstock and the council worked together to create Ideas in Motion, designed to get more people using public transport, cycling and walking.

Fast forward to 2018, and the task of addressing inactivity across the country still persisted. Linstock began working with Southend Borough Council again, but this time in collaboration with Thurrock Council and Essex County Council. An evolution of the brand, ForwardMotion, was created to overcome the barriers to active travel across south Essex.

The ForwardMotion initiative has incorporated many different behaviour change principles, but three in particular have stood at the heart of the initiative. Firstly, making it personal. As any good athlete will tell you, an effective training regime needs to be tailormade for your own specific needs and goals. Personalisation is one of the most widely used principles for promoting behaviour change and it has been at the heart of ForwardMotion.  ForwardMotion’s personal travel plans enable its trained travel advisers to provide tailormade advice on getting from A to B without using a car. This means advisers can have a conversation with people about their own specific journey and unique way of travelling, rather than speaking in generalities about the benefits of public transport or cycling and walking.

Another principle ForwardMotion has used is to encourage people to take small steps, rather than make big dramatic changes. This is something which began with Ideas in Motion, which suggested that people change just one journey, highlighting small, achievable steps to changing the way you travel, much like the British Cycling team’s focus on marginal gains. This is something which has continued as part of ForwardMotion. One example was an active travel challenge, set by ForwardMotion, which encouraged people to ‘Trial A Mile’, with the aim to make just one mile of their journey by an alternative travel method, such as walking or cycling.

One of the key challenges of an initiative like ForwardMotion is getting people to participate in the activities you provide, as they often require a time and energy commitment. This includes things like cycle training and walking workshops. Whilst out and about at roadshows and events ForwardMotion have used the principle of reciprocity to encourage those who take ForwardMotion freebies, like keep cups or water bottles, to commit to an action. To do this ForwardMotion created reciprocity cards, designed to encourage certain actions such as following ForwardMotion on social media, all the way through to signing up for a cycle training course.

ForwardMotion will continue to deliver active travel behaviour interventions until March 2020, but the initial results have been positive, with an 8-percentage point shift away from single occupancy car use towards active travel methods. With Tokyo 2020 on the horizon, it’s time to consider what other behaviour change principles could be used to encourage people to be more active.

If you’d be interested in learning more about how Linstock can help with your behaviour change campaigns, email

Jennifer Evans

Senior Consultant

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