Engagement and Consultation
Everyone has a contribution to make no matter how humble or small
Why is this important?
Engagement and consultation are fundamental components of policy and transport system design processes. To ensure a project or policy is successful the needs of all transport user groups must be taken into consideration, including women and marginalised genders. Although we may believe that we are planning for all transport users, our assumptions and unconscious bias limit our ability to do so. Therefore, having accessible and well planned engagement and consultation processes in place will help us to better incorporate the voices of women and marginalised genders, understanding their unique needs and in doing so we will create more equitable and inclusive transport systems.
Drivers for change:
Engage and then design. Utilise a “don’t touch the pen” methodology (Urban Movement, 2018), whereby the first step is listening to stakeholders and communities.
Discover lived experience. During the initial stages of engagement and consultation ask people what they think of the existing network to identify what solutions are needed. Focus on people's lived experience rather than making assumptions – every area will have unique outcomes.
Ensure access to engagement and consultation opportunities for everyone. Provide a range of opportunities to partake and use several media (online, paper and events). Opportunities should be both face to face and online, with events held at different times and on different days. Multiple channels of communication will ensure more people are involved in the process. This can include using online platforms such as CommonPlace.
Target the silent minority. Use open ended questions and provide safe private spaces to speak away from others.
Consult with representatives of women's groups. A women's group should be on the list of stakeholders to consult and can provide informal settings for women to contribute.
Have representative facilitators. Ensure that the facilitators of focus groups and events include men and women and are aware of gender-bias in consultation. Understand if the facilitators need to be the same gender as the respondents and adjust the engagement accordingly.
Engage at every stage of the project. Engagement is not only important during the initial stages of a project. Having engagement processes run throughout projects will ensure that feedback, thoughts and ideas are captured as the project evolves. These feedback processes can also result in the creation of synergy, innovation and better outcomes for all.
Seek consultation with gender experts. These individuals can provide direct insights, support and best practice in regard to successfully incorporating gender into project work.
Guidance on full local transport plans
'Lack of access to safe, affordable transport can contribute to social exclusion. Local transport plans must tackle these issues. So it is important that public consultation reaches out to groups such as older people, women, disabled people and people from ethnic minorities who may face particular problems' (DETR, 2000, p. 11)
Commonplace Community Engagement Platform
CommonPlace is an online platform which is increasingly being used for community engagement. Digital engagement provides the opportunity to engage with a wider audience some of whom may be unable to engage with more traditional forms of stakeholder engagement events.
CommonPlace is a platform which has been designed with the purpose of helping local people and decision makers to co-create places. The site allows users to drop a pin anywhere on a map and leave a comment on a given Commonplace project. Users can make suggestions, view the suggestions of others, agree with suggestions or answer any questions with the project's decision maker.
An example of where CommonPlace has been used is for the Levenshulme Active Neighbourhood Area Proposals. As part of this project, users are asked to share their views on proposals for a filtered neighbourhood area for people who walk, wheel and cycle. Users were asked to comment on what is good and bad about the area currently and what should be improved to make the area better for pedestrians, cyclists and those in wheelchairs.
Portsmouth City Council - Behaviour Change and Air Quality
Portsmouth City Council were planning a behaviour change programme aimed at reducing reliance on private car use and subsequently reducing air pollution in the city. In order to effect modal shift, the council first needed to understand what would motivate individuals to move away from using private cars and towards using sustainable and active modes of travel. A series of focus groups were held to inform the programme and to understand how best to communicate key messages to members of the public. During recruitment of focus group participants, care was taken to ensure that they represented a range of residents in Portsmouth. Participants were selected through considering their home postcode, age, gender, disability, socio-economic background and ethnicity. This selection criteria helped to recruit a broadly demographically representative group which provided an opportunity for researchers to consider differences in responses between different groups.
Leeds Civic Trust - Liveable Leeds Competition
Socially just and inclusive community engagement is a key aspect of the Trust's five year vision. In 2020, they launched a Liveable City Competition to improve a part of Eastern Leeds that is currently dominated by traffic and roads. Opening the competition to everyone, they received entries ranging from professional submissions by experienced transport planners, to a plea from a nine-year-old for better pedestrian crossings in the area. Ensuring that the competition was open for everyone, and not restricted by profession, age or gender resulted in true ‘bottom-up’ community engagement and provided wide-ranging ideas and recommendations for the area.
Following the success of this competition, the Trust are launching a new Competition of Ideas as part of their ‘Imagine an Excellent Bus Service in Leeds’ community engagement project, which can be found here.
Engagement and Consultation Resources:
Miro is an online whiteboard tool which can be used to facilitate interactive workshops and presentations. The platform facilitates attendee interaction and participation through the use of sticky notes, voting tools and mind mapping functionalities. Miro also provides participants with different ways to contribute without taking the microphone.
CommonPlace is an online community engagement platform. The platform can be used to collect comments and feedback on proposed design and interventions. Set questions about design proposals can also be added for participants to answer to allow for more tailored feedback. The platform also offers a community heatmap function so that users can add suggestions which are geolocated or respond and make comments about proposals in a set geographic area.
Mentimeter is an online presentation tool which can be used to facilitate interactive engagement and consultation events. The tool facilitates interaction through the use of live polling, generation of word clouds, multiple choice and ranking questions. Mentimeter displays data for each form of interaction in real time which can allow for further conversations to be shaped by the responses of participants. Mentimeter also provides participants with different ways to contribute without taking the mic.