Changing the Mindset: Using Travel Behaviour Research to Plan Smarter Travel in Scotland

Changing the Mindset: Using Travel Behaviour Research to Plan Smarter Travel in Scotland


D Halden, DHC, UK; J Anable, Aberdeen University, UK; D Easterlow, P Glennie, Scottish Government, UK


Behavioural research is being used to help change the local culture of travel behaviour in seven Scottish towns


The general dearth of longitudinal research on the impacts of transport investment has often been noted. One of the benefits of monitoring impacts of investment is that it allows plans to be developed and improved as the investment proceeds. The research helps to shape the impacts as well as understand them.

This paper describes how the results of a large survey programme involving over 12,000 household surveys over 3,000 telephone surveys, 14 focus groups and 70 in-depth interviews is assisting the dialogue between local authorities and people in their areas about how to become more sustainable.

The transport authorities are seeking to lead a change in transport culture, and the research highlights local pitfalls to avoid, and how to be sensitive to local attitudes. Local people can be fickle, so the marketing and promotion techniques need to be appropriately targeted. By encouraging smarter travel choices, the sustainable towns can become smarter places.

Almost a third identify they are already changing their amount of car use, walking, cycling or public transport. Initiatives which offer attractive types of journeys are well received, providing the information used to market these activities and the messages used to encourage their use taps into motivations such as health, cost and community improvement.

The people who might benefit most from some interventions can be the least likely to pay attention to new information or initiatives. The research has therefore assisted with the targeting of interventions.

Although, residents of the towns consider they live in good neighbourhoods, they have concerns for the future. Overall, people are keen to build stronger, healthier and cleaner communities.

The investment programme is only sustainable if what it leaves behind can be sustained beyond the initial investment phase. This relies on local people significantly changing their current perceptions of travel needs, opportunities and behaviour from that observed in this research.


Association for European Transport