Co-designing mobility initiatives in the EU Interreg project MOVE

Co-designed, innovative and sustainable mobility initiatives for rural areas šŸš² 

Up to now, rural areas have been largely excluded from novel sustainable mobility initiatives such as bike-, ride and car sharing. The longer ride distances and fewer potential customers mean that these initiatives are less cost-effective or technically infeasible. Therefore, local residents are almost required to own and drive a personal car or relocate to more urban areas to have sufficient access to jobs and to public services. Local authorities often heavily subsidize existing green solutions in rural areas, yet they are not always efficient in terms of emissions reduction.

The EU Interreg NSR project MOVE (Mobility Opportunities Valuable to Everybody) ran from September 2018 to August 2022. It aimed to bridge this gap by bringing together the local authorities, knowledge institutions, SMEs, citizens, and tourists to co-create innovative and sustainable mobility initiatives in different European pilot cities and regions. Sounds great, right?

To ensure that the developed mobility solutions actually solve the needs of the local citizens, credible, high-quality and relevant mobility data is a must. However, this kind of information is often not available to the local authorities. Therefore, within the MOVE project, several campaigns were set up in each pilot city or region to produce new data to assess the potential for certain mobility solutions, or to evaluate the success of running pilot programs. The results of this research were released in the MOVE White paper at the end of the project.

And you guessed it already: the Maplix Engage platform was used to enable this spatial data collection in the most efficient and easy way!

Survey data

One relatively straightforward and affordable way to collect mobility data in a rather simple and objective way is to distribute a (web)survey among the residents of the given pilot city or region. During the MOVE project, Ghent University designed a complete survey, which could be adapted according to the chosen mobility solution in a region. This survey was divided into 4 parts, bringing together the data needed for this project: (a) travel behaviour, (b) room for specialized questions related to the pilot in a city, (c) the citizensā€™ mobility profiles and (d) personal data.

This survey was created in Maplix Engage, using the extensive functionalities of map-based surveys and intuitive respondent experience to enable a rich dataset and easy way to answer all the research questions in each pilot. The survey was distributed in pilot regions Northeim (DE), Middelburg (NL) and Zoutelande (NL) to co-design and evaluate several mobility solutions.

E-car sharing ā€œMOPINOā€ in Northeim (šŸ‡©šŸ‡Ŗ)

For the MOPINO pilot, the county administration of Landkreis Northeim in Germany installed a fleet of electric shared cars in and around the city of Northeim. They used the Maplix Engage survey to gather reliable and credible feedback from the users of this novel service, as well as to gather additional information on local mobility behavior, supported by the Smart Mobility Research Group of Gƶttingen University. In doing so, the county administration ensured that future extensions of the pilot project are well aligned with the needs of the citizens.

Use and satisfaction with the existing car, bicycle and ride-sharing systems in Germany
Key locations in the daily life of Northeim

The pilot-specific questions in this survey were mostly related to the citizensā€™ utilization of and satisfaction with the MOPINO shared e-car. Satisfaction was polled on four domains (registration process, price, location of the charging points and range of the vehicle), while utilization was mainly measured in terms of percentage reduction of private car usage.

Citizens could estimate how much their private car usage had decreased thanks to the availability of the MOPINO e-car
Park & ride facilities in Middelburg (šŸ‡³šŸ‡±)

In Middelburg, the capital city of the province of Zeeland, the local authorities wanted to reduce the number of visitors and tourists driving into the city center by car. Therefore, two park & ride facilities in the outskirts of the city were upgraded and new facilities, such as bicycle repair and rental services, e-car charging and even e-scooter rentals were installed.

To evaluate the efficacy of these new measures, flyers with a QR-code to the Maplix Engage survey were distributed to all users of the park & rides during a couple of days in late summer of 2021.

`A typical Maplix report showing the number of trips made per week, divided into several travel purposes

And what a success it was. By using Maplix Engage instead of a traditional text-based survey tool, the municipality of Middelburg was able to see in much greater detail where visitors came from, what the reason for their trip to the city was and how (modes and routes) they travelled to Middelburg. With the auto-generated survey reports, it was simple to track the success of the survey and to visualize the results in clear charts without complicated Excel calculations and formulas. No analytical overhead!

Respondent drawing their bicycle route from the parking & cycle-hub ā€œOude Veersewegā€ to their final destination in the city center of Middelburg.
Bed & Bike in Zoutelande (šŸ‡³šŸ‡±)

The province of Zeeland wanted to develop itself as a more self-aware tourism destination, with a focus on 1) the balance between economical, social and ecological aspects and 2) the balance between inhabitants, visitors and companies. And yes, mobility (in terms of transportation behavior) plays a vital role in this development towards a more self-aware and balanced destination. Therefore, they collaborated with the owner of the Strandhotel Zoutelande to pilot a new service whereby hotel guests would no longer park their car inside the crowded town center of the beautiful beachside village of Zoutelande, but instead leave their car at a secure parking about 3 kilometers away, and then continue their trip to the hotel via an electrical bicycle that was provided by the hotel. Easy-peasy, and a rather fun way to kick off a summer holiday if you ask us!

Bed & Bike concept explained (in Dutch) ā€“ Source: Conceptboek te Kust

To evaluate the guestsā€™ experience with this new initiative, two Maplix Engage surveys were set up by the Coastal Tourism Knowledge Centre of the HZ University of Applied Sciences and Ghent University.

The first survey was rather short and meant for guests to fill in during their stay (as tourists probably donā€™t want to spend 15 minutes completing a full questionnaire!). In this survey, the guests were asked to rate their experiences with the Bed & Bike service on several domains (e.g., Luggage handling, location of the parking lot, etc.). Using question logic, guests indicating that they did not use the service, received different follow-up questions where they could indicate why they opted not to use it.

Surveying the satisfaction of the hotel guests with the Bed & Bike service

A few days after their stay in Zoutelande concluded, the guests received an invitation to participate in a second survey that more deeply evaluated the effect of the Bed & Bike service on their travel behavior, as well as the guestsā€™ general opinions on mobility and transportation.

Participantsā€™ utilization of different kinds of shared mobility systems.

Conclusion

Using Maplix Engage to co-design mobility solutions in a spatial way has proved to be a great approach in the three mobility pilots described above. Not only did it work to gather mobility data from citizens, visitors and tourists, but it showed to be a great and fun way to develop and evaluate novel sustainable initiatives and thus support decision-making in an easy way. Together towards a greener future, thatā€™s a promise.

If you would like to learn more about the MOVE project, visit their website here or read the MOVE White paper. If you would like to use Maplix tools for your project too, contact us at [email protected] or read how Maplix Engage can be used to add a new dimension to your citizen engagement!