Living Streets and Ecotricity have been shortlisted as finalists alongside Tisséo, which is a public service organisation in Toulouse, France and the city of Mechelen in Belgium. The four finalists will now go through a rigorous judging process, before the two ultimate winners are announced at a prestigious awards ceremony in London on 22 May 2014.
The Awards, now in their third year, recognise innovative travel schemes which encourage people to adopt more sustainable ways of travelling, helping improve quality of life whilst reducing congestion, pollution, and CO2 emissions.
The 2014 finalists are:
Ecotricity, based in Stroud, Gloucestershire, was recognised for its efforts kick starting the use of electric cars by creating a new ‘Electric Highway’ across Britain. Eco entrepreneur and founder of Ecotricity, Dale Vince was passionate about increasing the appeal of electric vehicles powered by electricity generated from renewable sources and so set about eliminating one of the biggest barriers to uptake. He created a new ‘Electric Highway’, a network of fast charging points across the UK motorway network, which dramatically extended the geographical reach of electric cars. By the end of 2014 there will be Ecotricity fast charging points at every motorway service station in Britain, marking a huge leap forward on the road to decarbonised travel.
Dale Vince, Ecotricity founder commented; “We built The Electric Highway to fill in a significant missing piece in the electric car jigsaw, tackling what's become known as 'range anxiety' with a national network of electricity pumps. This previously put people off buying electric vehicles. Now it’s about making people aware of the opportunity and the Eurostar Ashden Award is a great way of doing that.”
Living Streets joined the finalists because of its high impact campaigns including an annual national walking week, which encourages people out of their cars and onto their feet by creating safe, attractive streets where it’s great to walk. Their focus is to get children into the walking habit and develop healthier behaviours: over 750,000 school children were involved in Walk to School Week last year. Evidence suggests that the walking habit becomes a lasting one after the annual awareness-raising campaigns end, for example following last year’s ‘Walk Once a Week’ school campaign, year-round walking increased by more than a quarter. Aside from the health benefits, taking cars off the roads also helps cut carbon emissions, air pollution and ease road congestion.
Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive of Living Streets, commented; “Being selected as a finalist for the Eurostar Ashden Awards for Sustainable Travel is excellent recognition for the work we do at Living Streets and highlights the importance of encouraging and enabling people to walk safely and easily. These awards help to raise the profile of sustainable travel, and will hopefully give a boost to our supporters and staff alike.”
Tisséo, a transport operator in Toulouse impressed the judges with phenomenal growth in the use of public transport in France’s fourth largest city. Tisser means ‘to weave’ in French, and this is at the heart of Tisséo’s plan, weaving together a comprehensive web of sustainable transport options to create a model low-carbon travel network. Aside from expanding and improving the public transport network, Tisséo works with businesses to help them incentivise employees to use more sustainable forms of transport. What’s more, smart tickets can be used across the whole transport network, including bicycle hire and storage as well as for buses and car parking. These measures combined have resulted in a staggering 80% increase in public transport journeys from 2006 to 2013.
Stad Mechelen, in Belgium was selected for its transformation of Mechelen city centre to become a partly car-free zone, reducing traffic in the city centre by 70% in the process. Implementing a car-restricted zone has been key to transforming the city of Mechelen into a haven for living, working and shopping. Its forward-thinking local authority has taken an innovative approach, using cameras and signage instead of physical barriers, and working with local businesses to help them make it easier for people to take public transport to work. Stad Mechelen’s efforts have transformed the way the city is used, enhancing its appeal as a historic tourist destination.
Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive of Eurostar, said; “The 2014 finalists offer inspiring examples of innovation in sustainable travel. We hope that by celebrating their successes we will encourage more people to think differently about how they travel, and demonstrate that travelling by train, bus, tram or bike is often cheaper, easier and more efficient than driving or flying.”
The Eurostar Ashden Award for Sustainable Travel is part of Eurostar’s Tread Lightly programme to reduce the business’ impact on the environment and encourage people to switch to more sustainable modes of transport.