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Becoming a bicycle-friendly employer in Graz (Austria)

By Margit Braun / Updated: 26 May 2015

In 2014 a competition on mobility management for companies took place in the city of Graz. Participating companies could decide if they would focus on public transport, parking management, cycling measures or submit an overall concept. Haberkorn GmbH, an Austrian technical dealer for industry, construction and trade, won the second prize. By implementing several mobility management measures with a special focus on cycling the company has succeeded to become a cycle-friendly company.

Context 

In the city of Graz sustainable mobility – called 'Sanfte Mobilität' – has had a high priority for many years. Recently, raising awareness for walking, cycling and use of public transport as well as mobility management was defined as a continuous task for the city. In 2012 the Municipal Council of Graz set a goal of reducing car traffic from the current 45 per cent to 37 per cent by 2021.

This should be achieved through infrastructure measures and also by 'soft policies': under the campaign title 'Graz steigt um' (Graz switches from the car to sustainable modes) a comprehensive package of measures was developed, which promoted sustainable mobility issues among the entire population and encouraged them to use eco-friendly modes of transport. The package of measures consists, for example, of mobility agreements with large public transport providers, mobility management measures, and marketing and information activities.

In action 

In 2012 Graz introduced a special financial support model to encourage small and medium-sized companies to implement various mobility management measures. Therefore a competition called 'Mobility Management for Companies' was organised in which prize money for the best five proposals were awarded as a grant to be used for implementing the proposed mobility management activities.

By participating in the competition companies have to follow three different levels. Within the first level companies can require a consultation where mobility management activities concerning public transport, cycling and parking management are introduced. Specially designed guidelines and case studies allow giving well-founded advice. As a result, an overview of the potentially achievable activities for each company is provided.

The second level concerns the submission of a proposal by filling out an application form. Companies can submit either an overall proposal including all sectors of activity (public transport, cycling, parking management) or a proposal that focuses on a single sector. Additionally, the proposal must include information and motivation measures. Finally, the third level relates to the awarding of the five best proposals. Companies receive prize money to implement their proposed mobility management actions within a calendar year. The first prize is € 10 000. In 2014, 860 companies were invited to participate in the competition. Twenty-three of them required a consultation and 16 delivered a proposal for the competition.

Haberkorn GmbH  submitted an overall proposal with a special focus on cycling and was awarded second place. It received €7 000 . The company has 16 subsidiaries in Austria, Eastern Europe and Switzerland with 1 100 employees in total. In Graz, Haberkorn is located in the outskirts of the city and 30 employees work there.

Results 

A starting point for introducing mobility management activities at Haberkorn GmbH was to address the very high percentage of car use among employees when travelling to work. To improve the conditions for cyclists the company implemented 12 measures. Infrastructural measures included providing bike stands, a bicycle service box, changing rooms, lockers and staff bicycles, as well as motivational measures or awareness-raising actions (such as a test day for special bikes like cargo bikes, awarding prizes for 'cyclist of the month', providing healthy breakfast for cyclists, encouraging participation in bike-to-work campaigns, etc.).

In 2014 most of the proposed activities were successfully implemented. Haberkorn GmbH is confident it will achieve a reduction of car use in home-work travel within the next year. The company used the prize money to implement several actions. Additionally the company has applied funding for infrastructural bicycle measures (installation of high-quality bike racks and purchase of business bikes for the employees) at local and national level.

To guarantee that mobility management is a main topic for employees for a long-lasting period, Haberkorn implements some activities every week or at least once a month. A good example for regular campaigns is the 'Healthy breakfast for cyclists' that takes place every Friday morning from May to September. To promote cycling in all other subsidiaries in Austria too, Haberkorn started a cycling competition. The employees cycling to work between May and September were counted, and the subsidiary with the highest amount of cyclists received a prize. 

Challenges, opportunities and transferability 

A successful key element of implementing several mobility management measures at Haberkorn GmbH was the establishment of a company co-ordinator. From the start a person was in charge to promote, organise and carry out actions. Therefore the management staff allocated additional operational time for this person and fully supported the project. A well-designed communication plan was essential to inform, encourage and involve all employees right from the start of the competition. Several communication channels were used.

In addition to  emails and word-of-mouth information, campaign materials, such as flyers and poster, were produced for several actions. Moreover, unique design and branding was created for the mobility management measures of the company. All of this has contributed to the continuing acceptance and willingness of the employees to change their mobility behavior in a sustainable way. The main obstacle that needs to be overcome has been the company’s peripheral location that causes a missing connection to the urban network of cycle paths as well as poor accessibility to public transport. It is, therefore, particularly welcome that Haberkorn GmbH has introduced numerous mobility management actions successfully.

Contact: 
Region: 
Western Europe
Country: 
Austria
City: 
Graz
Author: 
20 Feb 2015
26 May 2015
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