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There are various available mechanisms for obtaining effective and critical feedback from the local community when implementing a sustainable transport project. We consider some of these here.

  • A steering group on a project is a committee, comprised of individuals with different skills, knowledge and experiences, who come together to make collective strategic decisions.

    An example would be from the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust who formed a representative steering group comprising about 10% of the island’s population, or 17 people, for their low carbon travel and transport challenge fund (LCTT) active travel network project. The idea was that these stakeholders would report back to the wider community. This approach enabled the project leaders to gather opinions on overall direction and key decisions, while ensuring that community priorities such as heritage considerations were suitably managed.

  • Round one of the LCTT challenge fund programme created two active travel hubs in Falkirk and Irvine. Each hub aims to provide advice on local active travel options and provide access to bikes, e-bikes, maintenance equipment and education for the public. They have hosted public engagement events as a means of reaching out to the local communities. These have included cycling training and led rides along new local path routes that were constructed as part of the project.

    Other examples of in-person events could include focus groups, surveys or door-to-door engagement. Face-to-face engagement tools such as these are more resource intensive but can provide high-quality detailed information.

  • Falkirk and Irvine used this approach when developing their active travel hubs. This created accessible, physical spaces where the community can come and provide input into the projects and speak directly with the experts involved when convenient for them. Having places such as these can be an effective way of facilitating engagement. Once built, active travel hubs are also ideal spaces for direct community engagement, with input in direct reaction to what can be seen and demonstrated.

  • Remote engagement tools, such as surveys and social media campaigns, can quickly collect insights from a large pool of people, however the information collected is likely to be less detailed. A mixture of face-to-face and remote engagement is therefore likely to provide the best results.

  • The community engagement process can also support the development of business relationships that facilitate the development of public charging infrastructure.

    These relationships may relate to the land ownership agreements necessary for charging infrastructure. The Ardrossan low carbon hub project, for example, aims to install chargepoints on private land owned by local businesses. As part of their engagement activity, the local authority has been making the case to businesses that the charge points should be looked upon as assets that could increase their footfall.

    You should therefore see the engagement process as an opportunity to develop business relationships that could lead to successful future public charging infrastructure projects.