Research summary: Encouraging more sustainable travel choices

A new report says one-size-fits all policy approaches are not the most effective way to change travel behaviours, Susie Sell reports

Report: blanket approaches are not the most effective way to change travel behaviours [Pic credit: William Murphy via Flickr]
Report: blanket approaches are not the most effective way to change travel behaviours [Pic credit: William Murphy via Flickr]

A research paper by LSE Cities, a centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science, looked at attitudes towards mobility based on evidence from London and Berlin. Towards New Urban Mobility says one-size-fits all policy approaches are not the most effective way to change travel behaviours. It identified six groups with distinct travel preferences, and made recommendations for how to encourage each cohort to make more sustainable travel choices. A selection is included here.

Traditional car-orientated
According to the researchers, this group has a clear preference for driving, often lives on the edge of cities, and has the highest car and home ownership rate. The report adds that the group does not readily adopt new ways of travelling, such as electric cars or travel apps. Instead, it suggests policies, such as congestion charging or parking restrictions, could be introduced to help provide funds to mitigate against the environmental impacts caused by this group. 

Pragmatic transit-oriented
This group often lives centrally, has a good view of public transport, and a low car ownership rate, and often have low to medium incomes, the report outlines. It adds that encouraging further adoption of cycling and other travel modes, such as car pooling, could result in long-term changes in transport behaviour. However, it adds that it is important that public transport and cycling are not too expensive to ensure they remain viable options for this group.  

Pragmatic transit sceptics
The report outlines that this group has a high car ownership rate, but it also uses public transport as a key means of travel. Initiatives should seek to reduce car use among this group, the researchers say. They add that allowing pragmatic transit sceptics to test new ways of travelling, such as car pools or electric cars, free of charge could help the cohort view low-emission transport as a viable option. It adds that this strategy would be effective alongside other policies, such as congestion charging.

Technology focused individualists
According to the study, this cohort drives, cycles and uses digital technology as part of their wish to maintain independence. They are often younger with higher wages, are dispersed across urban areas, and are characterised by using cars and public transport as their main means of travel. The researchers say policies for this group should focus on low-emission initiatives, such as car sharing or the promotion of electric cars. The report adds that behavioural changes could be prompted through initiatives that help the group realise the advantages of other travel modes and services. Digital technology could also be used communicate these messages, it says.

Towards New Urban Mobility can be found here


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