Influencing Travel Behaviour

Travel Plan measures are emerging as central to strategies aimed at reducing carbon emissions, and as an alternative to road capacity increase in managing congestion. Travel Plan measures aim at changing travel behaviours in order to reduce the demand for single occupancy car use, and to effect shifts towards public and non-motorised travel mode use.

This has proven, in many cases, to be difficult to achieve. To formulate effective Travel Plan Strategies it is therefore important to understand the how and why aspects of travel behaviour choice, and when behavioural change occurs.

So, what changes people’s behaviour? Lots of things influence what we do. People often think that advertising is the way to bring about change, but while it might affect the brand of shampoo you choose, it is unlikely to change complex behaviours like how we travel to work.

Behaviour change can seem complicated, and there are many different competing models and approaches. There are, however, a number of more simple steps and things to consider, which can offer an effective formula for designing a behaviour change project:

Inspiration: First, people need to be offered something they personally desire. Framing a new travel behaviour as an opportunity to become healthier, to look or feel good, to be more socially connected, or even just getting where you want to go faster and with fewer hassles, is vital to connect the behaviour to peoples’ personal motivations.

Enablement: Second, people’s fears and doubts need to be taken seriously. How can we modify people’s physical and social context so they feel more able to manage the risks of change? Staying the same is easy; change presents risks. Walking, cycling or catching a bus or train may evoke fears for those who haven’t yet done those things.

Telling people that their fears are wrong is pointless and creates denial and resistance. Instead we need to address and modify the aspects of the environment that cause those fears.

Invitation: People need an invitation to start their journey of change. They need someone they trust to say “Come along. Try it out. I’ll be there to make it easy.”

The ways we engage people need to be designed with an eye to lowering fears as well, focusing on qualities like familiarity, autonomy, community building and social proof.

Trail and Satisfaction: Finally, their first experiences should generate personal feelings of satisfaction. If people feel good about their experiences and achievements then they’re likely to sustain the new behaviour in future. However, if they experience negative feelings then the behaviour is likely to be dropped and further attempts to change behaviour resisted.

TPS are experts in the design and delivery of effective Travel Plan Strategies and Travel Plan Measures, based upon the theories of behaviour change. We take the time to understand barriers, perceptions and opportunities relating to travel behaviour change, allowing us to design bespoke strategies aimed at influencing the way that people travel in pursuit of identified aims and objectives.