Friday, January 29, 2010

Sustainable transport survey identifies five types of travellers

A new study from Germany of attitudes towards transport and mobility has identified five groups of travellers. The groups differ significantly in their choice of transport, distance travelled and the impact their transport choices have on the environment in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

- by ClickGreen staff. Published Sat 30 Jan 2010 16:50 http://www.clickgreen.org.uk/research/trends/121060-sustainable-transport-survey-identifies-five-types-of-travellers.html
The transport sector is responsible for a large share of urban air pollution and for nearly a fifth of the GHG emissions from the European Economic Area member countries.

According to the European Environment Agency, the increase in CO2 from transport could threaten the ability of the EU to meet Kyoto targets. In the EU's Sustainable Development Strategy, transport is identified as a priority challenge.

Sustainable mobility options can be made more attractive to the European public through soft policy measures, such as public awareness campaigns and marketing for public transport.

However, their success depends on targeting different groups that exist within the public.

The study interviewed 1,991 citizens living in three German cities on their use of and attitudes towards transport. The analysis indicated that there are five different 'mobility types' of people:

1. Public transport rejecters. These believe public transport provides little sense of control or excitement. They are not open to change and see access to mobility as very important.

2. Car individualists. Similar to public transport rejecters, but are open to change and consider privacy more important.

3. Weather-resistant cyclists. Positive towards bicycles and will cycle even in bad weather.

4. Eco-sensitised public transport users. Positive towards public transport and are highly influenced by their environmental conscience.

5. Self-determined mobile people.
Perform the highest percentage of trips by foot; they do not consider mobility important and are not open to change.

Each group comprises around 20 per cent of the participants surveyed. Unsurprisingly, the public transport rejecters and car individualists produce the largest total GHG emissions from transport use (both public and private), at over 2000 kg of CO2 equivalent each per year.

The remaining three groups all have total GHG emissions under 1000 kg of CO2 equivalent per person per year. Self-determined mobile people have the lowest total GHG emissions from transport use, at just over 500 kg of CO2 equivalent per person per year.

Residents in suburban areas used cars more often. However, there were no significant differences in distance travelled and level of GHG emissions between those that lived in suburban, inner-city and city-district areas. Young people in single households and two-or-more-person households covered the most distance by car and had the highest GHG emissions. Pensioners had the lowest.

The five 'mobility types' have a strong predictive power for transport choice and associated GHG emissions. This approach has proved more predictive of transport choice than geographic or socio-demographic approaches. Focusing on mobility types could be a starting point for soft policy measures by helping select and prepare information for the different groups.

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One point about those five mobility types if I may. They look rather German to me, perhaps Nordic. The categories in Delhi, Denver or Dar es Salaam will doubtless look a bit different. There is a lot of culture in mobility, never mind climate, geography, economics and the rest. Still, food for thought.
* Waiting for the bus in Cape Town. Credit: Mobility Magazine

Note: The ClickGreen report does not indicate its source, but we shall look for it and report here when we find it as a Comment to this article. In the meantime of course comments and further references most welcome.

The editor

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