Achieving Sustainable Change: the Role of Young Adults



Achieving Sustainable Change: the Role of Young Adults

Authors

MACKAY K; Steer Davies Gleave, UK

Description

The travel patterns of the British population have changed considerably since the Second World War. Whilst the use of public transport and walking has declined markedly, car ownership and use has risen inexorably. As concern has grown over the long term i

Abstract

The travel patterns of the British population have changed considerably since the Second World War. Whilst the use of public transport and walking has declined markedly, car ownership and use has risen inexorably. As concern has grown over the long term implications of these predicted trends, attention has been drawn to the significance of young people as the indicators of future change (RAC Foundation, 1995).

In the most comprehensive publication to date on 'car dependence', the KAC (1995) identified the possibly critical role of children in the development of 'car dependency'. In the report it was proposed that if, as the evidence suggests, attitudes and habits concerning travelling are so entrenched,

'in the long run there will still be changes as new people enter the population and form their attitudes and behaviour for the first time. This suggests that...research on the formation and longevity of behavioural patterns by new entrants into the population of interest (e.g. older children as they approach the age of llcenee acquisition...) may be of far more importance than changes in the behaviour of those people already in the population' (KAC, 1995: p115).

Although statistical evidence relating to young adults 2 is sparse, it does indicate that not only do they have very different travel patterns to their peers of thirty or forty years ago, but also that trends in the development of travel patterns as young adults grow towards adulthood are also changing (DOT, 1995a; 1996a). Similarly, expectations and notions of mobility vary between lifeeycle groups and between successive generations.

Nonetheless, until very recently there have been relatively few studies on either the mobility of young adults or their feelings about transport. Some examples are ~-lillman, 1990; Solomon, 1994; Pilling & Turner, 1998. Rather, the majority of research has focussed on the journey to school (Ashley & Scliofield, 1995; Bell and Tether, 1983) and accident and safety issues (AA, 1992; DoT, 1995b).

The apparently deep attachment of society to cars, despite concern about environmental degradation, pollution and the rising incidence of congestion has been documented and the difficulties that this poses for reducing reliance on the car highlighted (Hallett, 1990; Culllnane, 1992; RAC, 1995). However, less well documented is the role that cars have come to play in the lives of young adults and the potential significance of this For achieving sustainable change in travel patterns.

Clearly, if effective policies are to be formulated to help reduce extensive use of the car and encourage people to make greater use of other modes, a much deeper understanding of young people, particularly young adults, is necessary.

This paper presents the results of an empirical investigation into the role that young adults may play in achieving sustainable change in travel and transport use. Following an outline of the methodology, the main body of the paper comprises: an analysis of the young adults' travel patterns; an evaluation of the reasons for driving licence acquisition and driving; and an assessment of the effectiveness of various deterrents to ear use. The final section summarises the findings and implications of the study and makes suggestions for future research.

Publisher

Association for European Transport