Sustainable Transport: Assumptions on Behaviour Change



Sustainable Transport: Assumptions on Behaviour Change

Authors

STEG L, Social and Cultural Planning Office and TERTOOLEN G, Ministry of Transport, The Netherlands

Description

In many countries of the world, the popularity and massive use of motor vehicles constitute major problems of accessibility, environmental quality and quality-of-life in and around human settlements. It appears no longer helpful to only consider technical

Abstract

In many countries of the world, the popularity and massive use of motor vehicles constitute major problems of accessibility, environmental quality and quality-of-life in and around human settlements. It appears no longer helpful to only consider technical and road-infrastructural solutions to these problems; the effects of these tend to be overtaken by ongoing growth of car use. Effective solutions of these problems require changes in human transport behaviour, and significant reductions in the volume of car traffic.

The problems of car use are the consequence of the choices and behaviour of many individual car users. Therefore, behaviour scientists can contribute to the solutions of these problems, by giving insights in how car use behaviour can be changed. The fimny thing is that behavioural scientist have hardiy been involved in mobility policy. Mobility issues were mostly seen as economical and urban planning issues. These disciplines do have some implicit assumption on human behaviour and its determinants. However, these assumptions are mostly implicit and restricted, that is only partly, under certain circumstances true. For example, economist assume humans behave rationaUy, and always choose the option with the highest utility. However, people sometimes make suboptimal decisions, because of lack of information or because they behave habitually. Technologist assume that their innovations will be used in the way they planned. However, this appears not always to be the case. For example, in The Netherlands, people tend not to switch of their energy-saving lamps, or they even tend to use these lamps at places were there have not been a lamp before, such as in gardens. So, the net energy-saving effect of these measures is far less in comparison to what was expected. Moreover, people tend to use their car more often when their car is provided with a catalytic converter, because 'it is a clean car'.

Behaviour scientists can help to explain these kind of effects. Behaviour scientist can give a systematic overview of behaviour mechanisms and behaviour determinants. They can provide a framework by which car use behaviour can be explained and changed. Behaviour scientist are or should not mainly study the effects of commlmication or education. For, behaviour is not only the consequence of individual preferences, but it is also determined by the situational circumstances.

In this paper, we will give a short overview of some important behaviouml theories, which help to understand car use. Second, we will give an overview of strategies for social behaviour change, which could be implemented to reduce car use. Each of these strategies is based on some (mostly implicit) assumptions on behaviour mechanisms and on determinants of behaviour. However, the strategies will only have the intended effects to the extent that these assumptions are met. Third, we will give an overview of how policy aimed at reducing car use can be improved by taking knowledge from behaviour scientists more into account. We will present 'ten golden rules' which help policy makers to plan or implement policy measures aimed at reducing car use.

Publisher

Association for European Transport