Embracing Active Travel for Health, SWITCH Final Conference

The event brought together cities, regions, experts and professionals, working in sustainable mobility and health, from across Europe.

Over 60 participants convened in Bremen to exchange knowledge and good practice examples on designing successful campaigns to encourage pupils and parents, students, adults, employees at workplaces and seniors to walk and cycle more and create a long lasting good habit by moving away from a more sedentary lifestyle.

Master of Ceremony, Ms. Bronwen Thornton, Walk21 Development Director, opened the conference by inviting on the podium the project coordinator Ms. Wiebke Unbehaun, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna (BOKU), who gave an overview of the SWITCH co-funded project and outlined the main results and outcomes.

Ms. Mailin Gaupp-Berghausen, BOKU, and Ms. Veronica Reynolds, Intelligent Health, presented the SWITCH methods. Their presentation titled 'How to develop targeted travel behaviour change campaigns? ICT, life change moments, health motivations, gamification.'

Keynote message

A key note speech was delivered Dr. William Bird, CEO Intelligent Health. The title of William's presentation was: 'Promoting active travel: how to use ICT and life change moments to motivate change'; the presentation looked at the causes of chronic stress from a health perspective, such as lack of physical activity and other poor health behaviour.

Did you know that every minute we spend seated we're ageing?

  • Technology, such as the increased use of smartphones and TV viewing, has filled a void and inactivity is a consequence. "The motivation to get people active is not through lack of disease nor through technology" said Dr. Bird, "but by a positive experience with people in a supportive place with purpose."
  • Having fun proved to be the main reason among students for taking part in a Beat the Street campaign. And this also the message we learnt from the SWITCH campaigns.

The five SWITCH campaigns

The event was designed around five city-based campaigns which have proven a successful way to address some of the challenges around the lack of physical activity among the target population.

SWITCH showcased how personalised travel planning can effectively help individuals to shift from motorized transport to active travel, as well as improve the social and environmental sustainability of having less private vehicles in the streets, and how gamification can be a powerful tool for take up of walking and cycling in local communities.

Evaluation results

Early evaluation results drawn from the five SWITCH campaigns were illustrated by Lucia Cristea and Desmond Marozva, European Integrated Projects (EIP).

A key message in Lucia's presentation was that SWITCH works!

  • The campaigns proved to be a successful "nudge" technique to change mobility behaviour and have significantly increased active mobility levels among the target group.
  • Two examples, 61% of respondents in Gdansk say they have increased walking trip during the campaign, and 39% say have increased cycling trips in Donostia / San Sebastian. Is it worth investing in a SWITCH campaign?

In general, SWITCH estimated a 2.5 years payback period, providing the behavior change is sustained, energy prices are stable and without other benefits included. E.g., in Vienna we calculated a 26 months pay back and 31 months pay back in Gdansk (without evaluation costs).

Final evaluation results will be made available closer to the completion of the project end of May 2016.

Experts panel debate

The experts panel debate "Building on success" debated what initiatives prove cost effective for cities to shift to active travel, reduce car traffic, air emissions and noise, and how cities and campaigners can tap into travel behaviour change techniques to promote physical activity.

The panelists included representatives from different organisations and institutions, all working with behaviour change in mobility.

From advocacy groups like Ms Benedicte Swennen (European Cyclists' Federation), to public health like Ms. Janet Djomba (National Institute of Public Health Slovenia), and cities represented by Mr. Chris Norfield (LB Hounslow) and Mr. Steve Windey (Antwerp).

The SWITCH Campaign Guide and Toolbox

The last presentation unveiled the much awaited SWITCH Campaign Guide and Toolbox. Ralf Brand and Silke Ralf of Rupprecht Consult illustrated the structure of the Campaign Guide and where tools, and further reading and recommendations can be found online.

The Campaign Guide was conceived as an easy to read handbook, visually appealing, and including useful examples for our target audience. Ralf also presented the SWITCH online tool which is structured along the SWITCH campaign and helps course takers to reflect and transfer it to their city situation.


Presentations are available on the SWITCH websiteVideo recordings are coming soon!

For more information, please visit