Public understanding of sustainable transport

Project details

Full project title: Public understanding of sustainable transport

Sponsor: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

CTS team members: Professor Graham Parkhurst

Project partners: Scott Wilson (lead) and Hall and Partners

Start date: February 2007

Finish date: June 2007

Project summary

This was one of five qualitative research projects investigating the public's understanding of sustainable behaviours.

The project applied deliberative workshop and mobility biography methods in examining attitudes to sustainable transport. The discussions covered people's aspirations in relation to transport: by what means they would like to travel, how distant these aspirations are from visions of sustainable transport policy and what might be done to nudge their aspirations towards sustainability. The work also covered the public's expectations about what institutions such as government, retailers and car manufacturers should be contributing to the process of 'decarbonisation'.

The findings emphasised the need to make use of existing, informal, social information networks to reach individuals with technical information about transport, since official sources of information may be viewed with scepticism. Messages should focus on the immediate, tangible environment and the individual benefits (eg health) which derive from the desired behaviours, rather than long-run effects which may appear distant and marginal. The extent of attachment to cars suggests avoiding their 'demonization', instead messages should emphasise buying lower impact vehicles and using them more thoughtfully.