Welcome to the Switch Campaign Guide!
This Campaign Guide is intend to help organise a campaign to make people switch short car trips to more active modes of travel. It explains the general principles behind such a campaign, gives step-by-step advice on how to prepare, execute and evaluate it and provides all kinds of ready-made material and templates to make your life easier by not having to reinvent the wheel.
We hope that this Campaign Guide will be of particular use for Urban and transport planners as well as public health professionals and local authority staff. Local stakeholders, citizens and advocacy groups as well as organisations such as a chamber of commerce are likely to also find it useful. Whether you are an experienced campaigner or are trying this for the first time, whether your city is large or small.
In all cases, the guide hopes to support your interest and provide motivation to prepare, implement and evaluate a SWITCH campaign. Please note that many of the materials provided, which can be used and adapted for your own location situation, have been created by SWITCH’s original Implementation Cities (Antwerp, Vienna, Donostia/San Sebastián, Gdansk and the London Borough of Hounslow). If you would like to share some of your own materials too please let us know.
The four main elements of a SWITCH campaign
Every SWITCH campaign consists of the following four essential components:
These elements form the most important building blocks of a successful campaign, while leaving room for adaptation and adjustment for a tailored design which fits perfectly to your city’s local conditions.
1. Personalised Travel Planning
Personalised Travel Planning (PTP) is a form of individual communication (also called “dialogue marketing”), which relies on close personal and tailor-made contact with targeted individuals in order to make it easier for them to change their travel behaviour. Werner Brög from the company Socialdata was seminal in developing this concept. It is characterised by a set of clearly defined steps and ensures that a campaign follows a clear and comprehensive sequence of activities.
PTP typically sensitises people about their often unquestioned mobility routines. As a first step, participants are invited to rethink their everyday travel behaviour and identify realistic alternatives to car trips in the form of active modes, walking and cycling and public transport options. In short, PTP aims to:
identify and fill individual knowledge gaps,
raise awareness about the negative individual and societal consequences of car dependent lifestyles,
inform about the economic and health benefits of active travel,
show individually suitable alternatives,
motivate and reward changes in travel habits.
PTP addresses both information deficits and subjective barriers that people have about how they travel. There is an overwhelming amount of travel-related information available from various sources. However, this information needs to be actively accessed by people and interpreted to suit their specific situation. This individual interpretation requires effort and typically certain skills (e.g. knowing how to read a timetable). Not everyone is able or motivated to do this.
In addition, information – even if customised – does not typically trigger long-lasting changes in people’s travel routines. People have subjective barriers like the fear of doing something wrong, getting lost, a lack of reminders (at least initially), the feeling of being “the only one”, etc.
PTP can help by setting impulses to break with routines and to lower psychological barriers. By focusing on individuals directly and showing them how they can personally benefit from custom-made alternatives, PTP reminds and rewards them by giving them a feeling that they are part of a wider SWITCH community.
2. Health Arguments
Public and personal health arguments can be very effective in promoting active travel because the knowledge about the very real social and individual health benefits of walking and cycling can be a strong motivator for behaviour change. They can be used to both garner support from local stakeholders (e.g. chamber of commerce) and to trigger a reflection process among individual travellers.
Local stakeholders are most likely to be interested in scientific and statistical data (please be careful about the credibility of your sources), which includes facts about:
societal effects of physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour;
prevalence of chronic diseases (obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, back problems, etc.);
health benefits of regular physical activity / active lifestyles;
impacts of car-based travel on workers’ productivity, health and absent days.
While these scientific arguments might be of great interest to local stakeholders and politicians, the members of your target group (i.e. the participants of your campaign) are probably more curious about very practical and ideally individualised information concerning the health benefits of active travel and how to achieve them, such as:
someone’s individual “distance” from established recommendations about physical activity
potential improvements to someone’s personal health condition;
how to meet medical recommendations by using active travel;
how to include physical activity in daily routines (eg Green Prescription);
Regardless of the target group, health facts should be presented in an attractive and easy to understand way for that group. Ideally, your health information messages and how they are presented are also specific to your particular target group. For example, older people might respond more positively to different information than children or workers or immigrants etc.
3. Use of ICT tools
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools can be particularly valuable for a SWITCH campaign to collect data on travel behaviour and activity levels and
motivate and support behavioural change.
If you use them to collect data about your target population’s travel routines, they can help you to objectively assess the effectiveness of your campaign and to understand the reasons for it. Data gathered through ICT tools can also help you to formulate specific questions for the evaluation surveys and for the qualitative evaluation (see below). For example, you might detect surprising patterns in people’s travel routines. In that case, you can address these points in your follow-up interviews.
ICT tools can and should also be used for motivation and to support behavioural changes by providing practical information such as maps, way finding, the location of rental bicycles or noise-reduced walking routes.
ICT tools also have the capability of reminding and motivating people. For example, they can allow their smartphones to track their movement and to obtain automatically generated feedback about their travel behaviour and their physical activity level – and related health impacts. If desired, they can share this data with friends, family members and co-workers and thus enter a voluntary, friendly competition, which has been shown to be particularly effective. These and other tools can also be used to incentivise and reward participants, either directly as part of the SWITCH campaign or indirectly as part of a competition between groups of people (e.g. between schools or workplaces).
Good Practice Example:
The “Wien zu Fuß” App has a built-in step counter, a route planner and features a “treasure hunt” for 1000 virtual diamonds that are hidden throughout the city.
ICT tools come in a variety of forms and approaches. The four most commonly used types of tools are:
Devices to automatically monitor one’s own behaviour and health impact (e.g. heart rate monitor, step counters, GPS watches)
Websites where participants can obtain information and log their travel data (this requires a higher level of commitment from the user)
Apps for Smartphones, both mainstream products from play- or app-stores (low cost and widely available) and custom software (higher set-up costs);
Devices (and usage protocols, games etc.) provided by third parties such as “Beat the Street” in the UK.
It is important to note that the use of ICT tools has implications in terms of data protection and privacy issues (Example of online registration for an ICT app (in German). Make sure that you use them with utmost sensitivity and you build in safeguarding mechanisms to ensure no data leaks to unauthorised parties. Also, be aware that the use of some ICT-services may unintentionally exclude certain groups of people, like those who may not own smartphones or lack internet access, for example
For a good overview about the use of ICT tools, see the presentation of Regine Gericke, the initial project leader of the SWITCH team.
4. Life change moments
People’s mobility patterns are rarely based on cognitive decisions. Instead, we typically travel in “autopilot mode” through our cities and don’t question why we travel the way we travel. In other words, we are guided by extremely powerful habits.
However, at certain points in our lives we are forced to rethink our routines. This is when the old ones have lost their usefulness. For example, because your car has broken down, you’ve started a job in a new location, you have moved house, or you are going to a different school, to name just a few examples. In such situations, you have to reinvent the way you meet your mobility needs.
These “life change moments” inject a moment of reflection into our lives and they offer unique opportunities to create new, healthier and more sustainable routines. A SWITCH campaign is designed to grasp precisely these opportunities. The Good Practice box describes the life change moments upon which the five SWITCH Implementation Cities focus. But there can be many others, for example:
The five SWITCH Implementation Cities worked with the following target groups:
People who recently received medical advice for more physically activity;
People who recently moved;
People affected by major (infrastructural) changes such as a long-term road closure;
People who recently started a new job;
Children who recently started school.
People who recently moved from one school (type) to another;
People who had a recent change to their household (children born, elderly parents moved in, young adults moved out);
People who recently got rid of their car;
People who recently bought a pedelec or an e-Bike;
People whose children started to travel autonomously.
Ideally, the participants for your campaign are recruited directly when the life change event takes place, for example when they get medical advice for more physical activity; when they sign a rental contract but have not moved yet, or right after they have moved; the moment a road section is closed down for construction; or they are starting at a new school or work place.
Be aware that the point in time when you contact these people will influence the strategy of your campaign evaluation.