ACTION in the spotlight

Low Car Diet competition encourages sustainable commuting

Low Car Diet, the largest mobility competition in the Netherlands since 2012, aims to fundamentally change the way people travel.

Companies that choose to take part in the competition encourage their employees to commute as sustainably as possible for one month. At the end of the month, the company with the highest number of sustainably travelled kilometres is crowned the winner.

Approved transport modes include biking, using electric cars, taking public transport and not travelling at all - instead, telecommuting from home.

More than 250 businesses, 7,000 employees and 150 CEOs have taken part in the competition to date, including Accenture, IBM, Unilever and SNS Bank. Municipalities and provinces are also encouraged to join the competition.

Low Car Diet started in 2012 as a media campaign and developed over the years to a programme that offers companies data and insights to help them change their mobility policy. It also helps to address growing mobility issues, and supports the Netherlands in meeting its Paris Agreement commitment.

According to a recent survey of participants, 50 percent say they believe a programme like Low Car Diet is essential to changing mobility behaviour and 80 percent would recommend Low Car Diet again to their employer.

Research also shows that at least 40 percent of participants continue to make sustainable travel choices after taking part in the competition. On average, participants reduce the number of kilometres travelled by car by 21 percent over the long term, cutting their carbon footprint by around 19 percent.

Several companies have changed their mobility policy after participating in the competition, while others have been inspired to take other actions, such as purchasing e-bikes, providing facilities for those who cycle to work, and installing charging stations for electric cars.

Some participants start off dismissive of the competition, but organisers say that usually fades away. Some enjoy the high-speed e-bikes more than they thought they would, others secretly are fascinated by trying out an electric car, while others realise that they don’t need to go to the gym after work that often anymore thanks to taking the bike. Those who try public transport usually like being done with their e-mail inbox when they arrive at the office, thanks to being able to work on the train instead of being stuck in traffic.

The Low Car Diet team is now working on their 2018 campaign, which they say will be bigger and better than ever.

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