It's been a bit radio silence from us over the last few weeks. Not because we don't have anything to say - believe us, we do - but because we have been busy doing things. Now that we have had the chance to take a bit of a breather and tell you about one of the interesting little projects that we have been working on.
Back in July 2019, Surrey County Council declared a climate emergency. Like a lot of local authorities in the UK. But unlike other local authorities in the UK, they sought to act straight away through Surrey's Greener Design Challenge. In this challenge, residents were asked to submit their project ideas for how they could work with their community to tackle climate change. Of the shortlisted ideas (10 in all), 3 were focussed on transport. That is where we come in, as well as a visit to Kingston last Saturday.
We are working with the project promoters and Surrey County Council to bring these ideas to reality. We are doing this by advising them, and co-designing the scheme with them, giving our time and expertise to help. So we headed to the first community design workshop at Kingston University, where we got the chance to chat with them about their ideas.
We first met the Farnham Cycle Campaign, who had a very ambitious plan - a Cycle Superhighway through the centre of Farnham! Running from Farnham Park through to the train station, the plan was for a segregated route right through the town. So their challenge was - how do we get the plans approved? How much will it cost? And what will be the major barriers.
We then spoke to a group from Reigate. Their idea was to enagage with local communities to create 'local cycle maps' that identify improvements in an open and collaborative fashion. In their own words, "we want to do what Manchester is doing." Their challenge was to simply take the first step on this, and identify a community to work with to make it happen.
Finally, we spoke to a lovely lady (whose name we do not have permission to share) from WWF - who are based in Woking. Her idea was to engage with local businesses to identify improvements to local cycle routes. And her ask was really simple - how do i start?
With a first step, of course. Which is what the workshop was about.
The purpose of this workshop wasn't to spec the solution. It was to identify what the first steps were, and to set in place a plan of action to deliver. Led by the Service Design Team at Surrey County Council, a number of ice-breaker and planning activities were set out, delivered with the support of us and other partners. These activities included:
Throughout this process, our primary role was to facilitate the participants getting through the exercises, whilst providing our expertise and hints on how to get started. The discussions that we had ranged from what datasets to use, through how to design a travel survey, to planning a community engagement workshop. All within 3 short hours.
It was an intense few hours, that flew by quickly. Getting to know who proposed the ideas, and what drove them to do it, was an amazing experience. It has provided an excellent start to a very exciting community-based project that we are proud to support.
Over the coming weeks, we will be providing dedicated support to the teams, and will also be attending two further design workshops. We will keep you posted as it all progresses. It is going to be fun.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Beth Stewart and the Service Design Team at Surrey County Council for inviting us to be part of this project. Your support has been amazing!