Has it really been almost a month and a half since I last posted here? Yep. ‘fraid so! Apart from one abusive comment which I received (I tracked the IP address and know exactly who’s Mac it came from) you’d be forgiven for thinking nothing had happened here. Not (entirely) so – I have been beavering away behind the scenes to make sure I have a few good blog entries up my sleeve.
So why I am I blogging now? Well it’s the first day of Walk to School week (18-22 May ’09), so it seems appropriate. Today is also Smarter Travel Day (18 May ’09) which comes at the end of the fourth annual Work Wise Week (12-18 May ’09 – oddly it starts on a Tuesday). We are also in the middle of walk4life month (May ’09) organised by the NHS.
Of course, I could have chosen a week on Saturday, when we have Get Walking Day (30th May ’09) from the Ramblers. Or I could have picked some time last month – when we had Bike to School week (20-26 April ’09) and Walk to Work Week (27 April – 1 May ’09).
Maybe next month would have been better – National Liftshare Day (9 June ’09), Green Transport Week (13-20 June ’09), the World Record Walking Bus from Brake (17 June ’09), Bike week (including bike to work week 13-21 June ’09) or Change Your World (29 June – 4 July ’09) from Sustrans.
So why did I pick today? Does it really matter when your sustainable transport promotion runs? I don’t think so (too much).
There are a lot of sustainable transport awareness campaigns out there. They all tend to concentrate on the late spring/early summer (because it is the nicest time to travel under your own steam), but I am not honestly convinced that they all make the national impact that their sponsors hope they will. It would make a lot of sense for some of these organisations to club together to make a few bigger splashes (this has happened a bit with Bike Week, but it is sadly lacking on the walking side – though I hope walk4life month will stick around to change that).
When I ran the Walk to School campaign, schools would often ask me “have I missed Walk to School week?”. I honestly don’t think the answer mattered – if a school ran their own Walk to School week at a different time to the nationally prescribed week, does it really make a difference as far as the school goes? Are parents only going to allow their children to walk to school because it is a nationally organised event? I really don’t think so!
As an aside I firmly believe Walk to School week is at the wrong time of year, but that will have to wait for another entry!
In short. If you want an event to hang your local sustainable transport promotion onto, there are plenty out there. But don’t be a slave to them. There are undeniably some benefits (particularly if the awareness day offers a directory of local events like Bike week or Get Walking Day), but you will also be competing with other similar events locally – the local paper will only run one walk to school news story during the walk to school week, whereas one a couple of weeks early is more likely to get coverage.
Incidentally, there is another big glut of them at the end of September/beginning of October (travelwise week, in town without my car day, European mobility week, International Walk to School Month). The timing of this lot always had me stumped, but they are (at least) better at lining together with each other.