What is driving the Mobility topic in Belgium…

When it comes to the mobility issue in the EU, Belgium must shift its gears faster to transition to a low carbon country. The capital is the 7th congested city in the EU[1], which costs about 2% of Belgium’s annual GDP.[2] According to Bruxelles Environnement, in 2015 the number of Brussels inhabitants who use their car as the main mode of transport was 45.7% compared to other greener options such as train (31,1%), bike (1,3%) and car share (2,2%).[3]

Comparing Belgium to the Netherlands or France, the distance is much greater for citizens commuting to work. It is most likely that when someone lives very close to their work, they do not have a long commute. However, Belgians do not have this luxury.

Transportation accounts for 22% of Belgium’s CO2 emissions.[4] Cars put a burden on Belgium’s overall environmental health and its citizens, especially with high concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (NOx), and particulate matter (PM10).

… And the EU

The overall trend in Europe shows that cities are developing integrated urban mobility schemes. Total external transportation costs in urban areas is about € 230 billion annually[5], making it a worthy cause to start redefining the mobility plans. Good news is that all cities in Europe can meet the standards of an integrated urban mobility scheme but all at a varying degree. These developments have been positive over the last 10 years and these trends are to continue. That said, there is no cookie cutter approach of implementing such a scheme; few cities have a detailed plan while others are trying to include at least an aspect of mobility.

For instance, trends show that the European ridesharing business is set to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 14.9% from 2015 to 2025.[6] It will be made possible thanks to companies and other mobility service providers that create evolving business models to tackle mobility issues together. The Greenfish and Kowo partnership, explained further in this white paper, is an example of the emergence of these new services.

Figure 1 – Transportation evolution of Belgians, 1995-2015, from Service Public Fédéral: Mobilité et transport 2017 Report

 

Businesses in Europe are also taking the initiative to focus on mobility infrastructure and set collective company targets that tackle this issue. Ten members of the EV100 (Baidu, Deutsche Post DHL Group, Heathrow Airport, HP Inc., IKEA Group, LeasePlan, METRO AG, PG&E, Unilever, and Vattenfall) pledged to swap large diesel or petrol vehicle fleets to electric vehicle ones and encourage global business commitments to electric transport. More global companies need to start setting the standard to make mobility frameworks a necessity within their overall business strategy.[7]

Not only are new business models and synergies forming, but consumers are also opting for low carbon options for their daily commute. Electric cars and bikes are on the rise in Belgium. In 2015, there was a total of 3,900 electric cars and over 600 electric vehicle charging stations available to the public, offered by either the Plugin Company or EV Box.[8] In addition, of all the bikes sold in Belgium, one-third is an e-bike.[9]

On the road to transition towards a sustainable city

Of course, cities through their urban management are key players for soft mobility. To transition to a low carbon lifestyle, they could try to implement the 4Ps for Human cities framework. They are:

  • Proximity: How close are you to your work, where you run your errands, where you spend time with your family, where you go to do other hobbies?
  • Place for humans: Cities are currently designed based on roads (50-70% of land is dedicated to road infrastructure within city centers) and the human touch is no longer present. Accessibility by means of walking or biking is not in the original model anymore.
  • Prosperity for all: Social, economic and ecological prosperity is key for a flourishing city.
  • Participation: Among neighbours, families, colleagues, and citizens, initiatives such as ridesharing can bring a sense of community and lessen the number of cars on the road.

The elements of the 4Ps are reflected in the European Mobility Week (EMW). Lasting from September 16 to September 22, it had a great start in Belgium with its highlight of the week, Car Free Sunday. Various actions and initiatives were taking place throughout Europe to influence mobility and urban transport issues under the theme of “clean, shared and intelligent mobility”. During the week, individuals but especially cities, business and NGOs were encouraged to think about the modes of transport they use and provide. The week itself was built around 3 key pillars: a week of activities, permanent measures that continue to have a positive effect outside of the week itself, and a car-free day. Later in the year, an award is given to the best performing city for the EMW and another for the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP). Brussels won the 2016 SUMP award thanks to its work on making freight deliveries more sustainable and its use of innovative logistic schemes.

Greenfish’s fair share

In the context of the EMW, Greenfish has decided to engage in mobility initiatives to inspire its collaborators to use greener means of transport. For our first ever organized Greenfish mobility week, 31% of our company took part in these actions:

  • Mobility Challenge:

Our Mobility challenge encouraged each employee to leave their car at home and to commute by bike or on foot at least twice during the week. In addition, each employee had to send an original picture in link with the mobility, along with a testimonial providing a comparative table listing the pros and cons of the alternative mode of transport used. Furthermore, business managers were encouraged to prospect digitally as often as possible during the week to prevent any unnecessary travel.

  • Tour d’Europe vélo-actif Challenge:

All active bikers from Greenfish have registered to the Belgian “Tour d’Europe vélo-actif”-challenge. The aim was to collectively and virtually achieve 40.000km by bike in less than a week. Around 570 bikers that participated to the challenge digitally rode a total of 41.132 km around Europe. Imagine if you rode your bike from Namur to Frankfurt, Malmo, Krakow, and Zurich before coming back to Namur passing through Italy, Spain, and Portugal!

  • Greenfish’s KM meter:

Another of Greenfish’s initiative is the KM Meter: every employee had to calculate the number of KM they did by bus, train, bike or on foot every day from the 16th to the 22nd.

The following diagram is an indicator of how many kilometers per transportation options our employees used during our Mobility Week:

Figure 2 – KM meter at Greenfish during the European Mobility Week

 

  • Partnerships launching:

Greenfish collaborates with two car-sharing companies: Kowo and DriveNow. Kowo offers a solution especially designed for companies, favoring carpooling between employees from the same firm as well as from different ones (read more). As for DriveNow, we are working together to provide our partners with increased mobility in Brussels thanks to a free registration to the service and 20 free driving minutes.

  • The Great Traffic Quiz:

Between October 16 and November 30, Greenfish will stimulate its employees to participate to the eighth edition of the Great Traffic Quiz. This challenge gives the opportunity to refresh the traffic knowledge of our collaborators in a fun way. At the end of the testing period, it will provide a business report detailing interesting statistics such as the number of participants within Greenfish, average score, best and worst answered questions, etc. All this data will then be used to make an inventory about Greenfish’s knowledge regarding road safety.

  • New Corporate Mobility Plan:

As more and more industries and companies are aware that commuting is a pivotal issue, elaborating a green mobility plan with alternatives to company cars has become of paramount importance, especially in Belgium. There is no further need to describe the benefits of such a plan, whether in terms of finance, environment, health or brand reputation. Greenfish is currently working on the implementation of a new mobility policy that will propose various sustainable mobility packages and promote carpooling and intermodal commuting. Moreover, from 2018, the development of innovative and sustainable mobility solutions will even become mandatory in Brussels for +100 employee-companies. During October, Greenfish will launch a month long biking incentive program that will encourage its collaborators to count the number of kilometers they bike. If this pilot project has a great impact on our overall gas consumption, then Greenfish will extend this project until the end of 2017.

The ultimate target is to decrease our carbon footprint collectively and individually. Already, many projects and initiatives are in the pipeline for Greenfish and its employees. We aim to incorporate this mobility mindset within our company and engage in similar activities with our partners and clients. Besides taking proactive initiatives during the EMW, Greenfish believes in a clear long term view of its mobility impact and is willing to set tailored goals for its mobility program. These targets will incorporate the human and financial impacts while also creating awareness among the management and within the company. This a long road to travel on, stay aboard for our next Mobility white paper.

Toutia Daryoush – Junior Environmental Consultant at Greenfish
Géraldine Wirtz – Marketing & Communication Officer at Greenfish
Sabrina Vandezande – Marketing & Communication Intern at Greenfish

[1] https://www.theclimategroup.org/news/multinationals-launch-global-program-speed-switch-electric-vehicles

[2] http://www.fleeteurope.com/fr/news/electric-mobility-belgium

[3] https://gopressmobility.be/2017/06/09/belgium-land-e-biker 

[4] European Commission, October 2013, DG MOVE, Study to support an impact assessment of the urban mobility package Activity 31 Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans, p. 7 & p. 103

[5] http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160929005660/en/European-Ridesharing-Market-Opportunities-Report-2016-Ridesharing

[6] European Commission, October 2013, DG MOVE, Study to support an impact assessment of the urban mobility package Activity 31 Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans, p. 40

[7] http://www.amcham.be/blog/2016/11/what-can-we-do-about-mobility-belgium

[8] Bruxelles Environnement, Rapport Mobilité, 14/04/2015

[9] Service public féderal:  Mobilité et transport 2017 Report