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BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK (BAPS), actively promotes and encourages its devotees to make a positive difference to the environment. Earlier this year, BAPS observed World Environment Day and continued its Go Veg… Go Green… campaign, affirming its commitment to raise awareness and take action for a safer, greener environment.

With many thousands of visitors received each year by the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden (popularly known as the ‘Neasden Temple’), its main place of worship in the UK, BAPS has also taken proactive steps to address the impact that these worshippers and visitors have upon the environment through their mode of transport in reaching the Mandir.

For several months, BAPS volunteers had been in close consultation with the local Brent Council and transport officials in devising a special green travel plan. On Friday 27 November 2009, BAPS leaders and representatives from the local community, local businesses and transport organisations all gathered to mark the official launch of the ‘BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Travel Plan’. Also present at the launch were Brent’s Liberal Democrat Council Leader Paul Lorber and the Council’s lead member for Highways and Transportation, Councillor Daniel Brown.

The Plan includes proposals to make a significant contribution to the Council’s aim of reducing carbon emissions across Brent through a range of measures including better transport use. Brent Council agreed to call for better transport provision for the Mandir as part of a comprehensive plan. Some of the other initiatives identified in the Travel Plan include: high quality travel information and maps, real-time public transport screens linked to Transport for London services, bicycle storage, and assistance to facilitate more car sharing.

Working in partnership with the London Borough of Brent, Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police and WestTrans (a sub-regional transport partnership), BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir has committed actively to encourage cycling, walking, car sharing and public transport use among their regular devotees and international visitors, to reduce single-occupancy car trips to the Mandir.

Mandir Travel Plan coordinator Nitin Palan explained: “As BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a focal point of worship for the community, the majority of our regular devotees already travel in a sustainable way; 60 per cent share a car with family and friends and 31 per cent travel by bus, coach or tube. The Travel Plan not only acknowledges this good behaviour, but also identifies how we can proactively support our worshippers and visitors to ensure they continue to travel sustainably.”

The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Travel Plan is not just about encouraging responsible travel, but also about working closely with partners to consider how bus services and infrastructure could be improved to meet the needs of Mandir visitors as well as the local community.

Alex Williams, Transport for London, said: “We welcome the opportunity to work with the Temple leaders and local partners to ensure the right services and facilities are in place to help worshippers travel to the Temple safely and comfortably.”

Cllr Brown added: “It’s great to see the Temple encouraging its worshippers and visitors to consider greener modes of travel. The Temple’s travel plan illustrates the continued commitment to sustainable travel in our borough and the value we place on working with both business and community leaders to ensure we jointly tackle traffic congestion in the area.”

To read Brent Council’s own press release of the launch, please click here.

For more information about Brent Council’s sustainable transport campaign and useful tips on smarter travelling, please click on the respective links.

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