Modeshift interviewed Honorary Member Claire Fleming from Swindon Borough Council, to find out more about her journey into the world of sustainable travel and much more.
How long have you been involved in sustainable travel?
I started out in sustainable travel in 1999 when I began working for Nottingham City Council as the co-ordinator for the Nottingham Travelwise Centre. It was all quite ground breaking work back then, a partnership approach between the City Council, BBC Nottingham and the Highways Agency. With the internet at its infancy, we set up the UK’s first travel website, combining real-time traffic data with information on sustainable modes, along with a telephone hotline and radio bulletins. From there I moved to Nottinghamshire County Council in 2004 where I took on the internal travel plan as part of the climate change team. I found both the City and County Councils to be forward thinking and gutsy. I don’t think I appreciated it at the time, but they implemented schemes because it was “the right thing to do” and stood firm in their convictions. In 2008 I moved to Swindon and by coincidence, Swindon Borough Council were looking for a Travel Plan Officer, which I secured. I’ve spent valuable time networking through Travelwise and Modeshift, as I’m always learning from others and picking up new ideas and good practice. My biggest contribution has been the development of a Supplementary Planning Document for travel plans, which brings in money for the council to resource travel plans on behalf of the developer. It ensures travel plans are now to the same standard, and allowed us to incorporate Modeshift Stars into the planning obligations.
What have you most enjoyed about your job?
As well as travel plans, my job description is quite broad and I get pulled into a range of sustainable transport projects. I’m a person that likes to roll my sleeves up and do things, seeing the results of my efforts. I enjoy developing web pages, having set up Swindon Travel Choices as part of our LSTF project from 2012 – 2016. The branding and website still exist, and during lockdown we saw a 300% increase in web hits with people downloading cycle maps and information about routes.
I’m enjoying being the travel plan co-ordinator for a couple of housing developments, the role has come about as a result of my SPD. I’m compiling bespoke household travel information, have set up a bike loan scheme and will be running events as soon as the weather improves and it’s safe to do so. And who wouldn’t enjoy getting a hamster and a kangaroo involved in promoting car share?
What are you working on now and what’s next?
As well as the travel plan work, I have been drawn into the world of EV charging infrastructure and throughout 2020 I drafted Swindon’s strategy for rolling out EV infrastructure over the next decade. I also sponsored a bid to the Government’s ORCS scheme, so am overseeing the installation of charge points on residential streets in Swindon. With Covid, our timetable has been challenging, so we’re pulling out all the stops to get them in by the end of March! I am also part of the delivery team for the Active Travel Fund. We have a behaviour change element to our bid, so I will be managing the workstreams that deliver more cycle parking, mapping and information, a challenge, and with my road safety colleague, rolling out a School Streets project. There’s never a dull moment!
What do you like about being a member of Modeshift?
I like the Stars system. As a travel plan co-ordinator myself, it makes me feel more organised to have all the plans and actions in one place. I especially like the friendliness and approachability of the Modeshift team and partners, and the regional get-togethers. We can so often feel isolated in our roles – especially as we have been confined to our 4 walls at home – and the meetings are wonderful forums to bounce around ideas, share good practice and ask each other for help. The conferences are an extension of this, and I like that a conference place is included in the membership as it removes the need to fill in vast amounts of paperwork to get permission to attend.