There’s nothing more satisfying than walking to work, mouthing the words to whatever tune is on your iPod, while observing a huge tailback of cars, drivers seething at the fact they’re going nowhere fast.

Belfast has been named as the city with the worst traffic jams in the UK in a recent TomTom Survey which is all the more reason to think about ditching the car.

This week is European Mobility Week and we’ve linked up with DRD’s Travelwise NI to have a look at sustainable options of getting to work.

FOR SHORTER JOURNEYS

1. Walk

Travelwise NI , the Department for Regional Development’s sustainable transport initiative and the Public Health Agency have joined up to encourage people to get outdoors and get active for European Mobility Week which is an annual campaign run by cities and local authorities across Europe to promote sustainable urban travel. The international theme for 2014 is ‘Our Streets, Our Choice’, reflecting the power of citizens to shape the urban space around them and how they use it.

According to the DRD Travel Survey, 14% of all car journeys in Northern Ireland are less than one mile – about a 10–15 minute walk.  If you’re one of those people then pull on your walking shoes and walk.  Regular walking also promotes weight loss, improves happiness and it is thought that 15 minutes of brisk walking per day will add three years to your life expectancy.  Walking to work can save you money and also help promote a more positive environment by reducing congestion and pollution caused by cars.

2. Cycle

2 - Cycling

Just last month a 25 year bicycle strategy was launch for Northern Ireland with ambitious plans to increase cycle lanes, create more greenways and encourage more people to get on their bike. With Belfast being named as ‘the most congested city in the UK’, it is no surprise that more people are deciding to cycle.  The average cyclist can travel up to five miles in under half an hour – probably much quicker than it would take to drive during rush hour – and will also burn around 300 calories.  Cycling to work can also save you money and keep you fit.  Ask your employer if they operate the Cycle to Work Scheme.

3. Belfast Bikes

3 - Belfast Bikes #2

Cycling is one of the easiest ways to fit exercise into your daily routine because it is also a form of transport.  If you live close by and work in Belfast city centre why not walk to the nearest Belfast Bikes docking station and cycle the rest of the way to your workplace? The bikes offer a cheap and convenient way of travelling in the city centre and beats sitting in traffic during the morning or evening commute.  There’s also no need to worry about car parking charges.  Find out the locations here

FOR LONGER JOURNEYS

4. Bus

4 - Bus (2)

Take the bus to work and enjoy a less stressful journey by letting someone else do the driving.  Lose yourself in a good book, catch up on work or simply watch the world go by instead of concentrating on the traffic. Bus lanes and priority routes will also ensure you miss rush hour congestion saving you time on your journey.  Did you know?  Passengers can save up to 32% on annual bus travel by using Translink’s TaxSmart Scheme or purchasing a Smartlink card will also save you money on the cost of travel.

5. Train

5 - Train

Translink NI Railways operates scheduled rail services in Northern Ireland serving the following routes: Belfast – Bangor; Belfast – Larne Harbour; Belfast – Coleraine – Londonderry; Belfast – Portadown – Newry.  All lines offer a combination of express services and trains that stop at each station, with up to seven trains operating per hour at peak times on key commuter lines.  If you are travelling on a regular basis you can purchase a monthly ticket and save over 28% on the cost.

6. Park and Ride

6 - Park and Ride

The typical driver spends 106 days of their life searching for a parking space. If you want to get some of those 106 days back why not use a Park and Ride.  There’s over 50 Park and Ride locations across Northern Ireland, all situated conveniently to a bus stop or a train station.  The Park and Ride aims to provide a fast and convenient way of travelling to and from the nearest town or city centre and reduces traffic congestion along main routes.  Find out the locations here

7. Car share

7 - Car share

The cost of driving your own car is considerably more than just the cost of the fuel you use. Motoring organisations estimate the cost of driving a small car to be at least 31p a mile. By sharing your car with just one other person you can save approx. £2.50 per day on a return 10 mile commute.  Why not ask your friends, family or colleagues if they would be interested in car sharing or use one of the many websites available to find or offer a lift.  If half of UK motorists received a lift one day a week, congestion and pollution would reduce by 10% and traffic jams by 20%.

8. Park and Share

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If you can’t find someone that drives the exact route as you for car sharing, you can always use the Park and Share option.   Cycle, take public transport or drive to a Park and Share site where you can meet with the other car sharers to finish your journey.  Find your nearest Park and Share site here

9. If you have to drive…  

9 - Ecar

If you have no option but to drive to work then consider investing in an Ecar and help make the step towards a more sustainable future.  With fuel prices being a cause of concern for many, the switch to electric vehicles is becoming more appealing.  Pure electric vehicles use no petrol and no diesel and can be up to 80% cheaper to run. Car dependency and transport emissions are higher in NI than in any other parts of the UK, due to the dispersed nature of the population, however average journey distance is low, making electric cars well suited.  Northern Ireland already has a world class infrastructure network with 334 Ecar charge points meaning no one is more than 30 miles from one.  Find out more here

 

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