Using green transport for events is a bit like eating your vegetables. You know you should, but taking your own car and having a cookie at the break just sounds SO much better!
Green transportation ideas like taking transit, ridesharing and walking routes do not work for all events and audiences. However, when planned well they can be a great way to reduce travel stress and save money. Not to mention create less congestion and go easier on the planet.
For example, in my home town event-goers can save $50-60 by opting for light-rail over taxi for a return trip downtown from most suburbs, including the airport. And save 5-30 minutes on their travel time each way. Granted not all destinations are blessed with convenient and abundant transit, but many have walkable convention cores, where good pedestrian connections can help reduce ground shuttle costs.
This blog post explores how you can set up your event’s green travel program for success.
Include Green Transportation Considerations in Site Selection.
1. Ask about walking and transit access during your venue and hotel site visits. Favour locations that have convenient access for your staff and participants.
2. Ask about bike racks and secure bike storage during your venue site visit. If none is available, ask about bike valet and temporary storage options, like those organized for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
America’s Cup 34 designated expanded bike parking at a Pier adjacent to the main event site in San Francisco, and actively promoted free parking for bike commuters.
3. Ask if your destination offers sustainable transportation incentives, and plan to take advantage of them. As an example, Bike-Friendly Canmore is currently providing grants to make the community more bike-friendly.
4. Test drive walking routes and green transportation options before promoting them, to ensure they are safe and convenient. And don’t forget to try them with a suitcase, backpack or other gear your participants might be carrying. There’s nothing like personal experience to assess if transit use, biking and walking for your event is practically feasible.
Estimate and Enable any True Cost or Time-Savings.
5. Research and post the travel times and costs of different ways to access your event so participants can make informed choices based on their values and budget.
6. Negotiate a rail discount travel code if your destination is serviced by inter-city rail. Rail produces less carbon per passenger mile than many alternative forms of transport. If rail is accessible for your staff, require or encourage them to travel this way instead of by air.
7. Incentivize car pools by giving close or discounted parking to full vehicles. Oracle Openworld Brazil has activated sponsorships that provide cheaper parking for attendees arriving with three or more passengers. A great way to help get single-passenger cars off the road in busy São Paulo.
Make Green the Social, Hassle-Free Way to Get There.
8. Arrange for a group coaches or train trips from regional locations where attendees can efficiently travel together to the event site, instead of travelling on their own by car. This works well for groups that are chapter or congregation-based, where local members want to travel together. And festival-goers interested in fun as in the case of the Mixery Melt! Train. Consider group shuttles for staff if you have a large number of onsite crew, and venue parking is limited. And remember: well-planned shuttle coaches can be a green thing, especially if modern, efficient buses are used. Every full shuttle coach can take 55 personal vehicles off the road!
9. Show attendees how easy it is to use transit by making and uploading a fun video. Take care to include lots of visual markers that will be easy to see and recognize along-the-way. Consider weaving in local information that may be of interest to your attendees, so they are encouraged to explore your host destination.
10. Encourage green travelers to connect for ride-sharing and group transit trips by using the event hashtag, such as #eventhashtag #goingmyway or #greenriders. While onsite, consider setting up a green travel lounge (next to taxi stands, ideally), where participants can meet and greet to arrange shared trips or walking groups on their own.
11. Provide fun incentives to encourage ride shares, like a chance at VIP passes or great prizes. Carpoolchella is a great example for festivals.
Provide Information That Makes Green Choices Convenient When Planning Travel.
12. Mark transit friendly hotels on your housing site. Use a rule of thumb that makes sense, like being located within an easy, safe 10 minute walk of a major transit station (with luggage).
13. Add transit, car share and car pool resources to your event travel web page. Take care to ensure recommended ride share services are safe and professional, and do not present a liability. Options to look into might include Zimride (US), goCarShare (UK), BlaBlaCar (Europe), Coseats and Rideshare (Australia).
14. Identify safe cycling routes to your event location. These may be easily accessible through the convention and visitors bureau, municipal government, or a local cycling coalition. Visit Denmark sets a great example!
Consider including city bike-share program information on your event travel page.
15. Add a transit pass purchase option to your registration site or event ticket. Or better yet – bundle a transit pass by default, so attendees have to opt-out if they know they can’t or won’t take transit.
16. Add bike share, bike rack, valet or bike parking locations to event information sites and registration or ticketing confirmations.
17. Prepare maps of safe walking routes between event venues, hotels and attractions.
Prompt and Remind People that Green is a Friendly, Easy Choice Once Onsite.
18. Help out-of-towners by ensuring airport ambassadors are able to guide arrivals in how to get transit tickets. Equip hosts with welcome slips that can be handed out with special bus routing or train numbers that easily note their quickest route and ticket prices.
19. Equip ambassadors and transportation supervisors with transit guides and consider selling passes at venue information booths. Or perhaps provide a limited number of free, sponsored passes each day.
20. Embed transit, walking and biking guides in the mobile event application.
Make Green the Fun Way to Go Onsite!
21. Offer a bike share program between main venues. Don’t forget safety equipment and route marking to ensure a good experience. Check out Black Rock Community Transit’s Yellow Bike Project for Burning Man as a fun example.
22. If you’re more comfortable with professionals doing the biking, consider pedicabs or even horse-drawn carriages for attendees.
JavaOne provides free pedicabs for attendees to help them move between different conference venues.
23. Offer a free daily prize draw for people who bring used transit tickets to a certain location in the exhibit hall or at the festival site.
24. Offer a walk-with-me ambassador service that helps people get where they need to be safely.
25. Provide entertainment, such as musicians, actors, acrobats or artists on walking routes during peak movement times, branding them as “Walk and Stroll” experiences.
26. Issue a walking challenge with prizes for the most steps taken, and donations to a health-related charity when total participant step milestones are reached.
27. Make the challenge fun by adding a sound track of songs about walking: Walk the Line, Walk On, These Boots are Made for Walkin’, Walking on Sunshine…I could go on!
28. Involve a fitness celebrity in building awareness about your walking or biking program.
29. Provide vivid umbrellas in visible pick up and drop off locations at venues in case the weather turns poor.
30. Activate a sustainable transport sponsorship for any or all of the above ideas!
From conventions to festivals, green transportation does not need to be a hassle for a variety of event types. The challenge is finding the fun and convenient solution that also makes economic sense for your participant group. While you don’t need to try them all, we hope one or two might get you moving! Greener, of course.