Monday, June 22, 2009

Satoshi Fujii: Think your way to travel less

The most effective target is car users, and the most important point is to provide an opportunity to think their way to travel less. For achieving environmentally sustainable society, various types of pro-environmental behavior to reduce CO2 emission are believed to be called for. These include: adjusting the temperature of air-conditioning, turning off lights and electronic appliances as often as possible, and . . . the reduction of car use.

Among various pro-environmental behaviors that people can perform in daily life, car-user-reduction behavior is known to be the most effective option. Yearly CO2 reduction by reduction of car use for 10 minutes a day (588 kg;/year) is around 20 times greater than adjusting the thermostat by 1 degree through the year (32 kg/year), and around 300 times greater than the one resulting from turning off a TV (32 kg/year).

However, this “fact” is not well known to drivers. Therefore, their pro-environmental behavior would often be inefficient in terms of CO2 reduction, even though they were to be highly motivated to reduce such greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, practical measures to promote people’s voluntary behavior change to reduce car use are strongly called for in environmental policy making.

In order to reduce car use, many developed countries including European countries, Australia and Japan have implemented mobility management. Mobility management focuses on attempting to change travel behaviour using communication.

A typical mobility management communicative measure is a travel feedback programs (TFP). In the TFP, participants receive information designed to modify behaviour. Such feedback would be effective because it induces behavioural awareness, an essential element in modification.

This feedback may also prompt participants to increase their knowledge of specific methods for modifying their travel behaviour. A meta analysis of effectiveness of TFPs shows that about 20% car use has been reduced on average for those who participated in the programs.

This substantial effectiveness of such communicative measures implies that people can change their behavior for the purpose of contributing to public wellbeing.

It was also implied that a reason for them not to change their travel behavior in the past would be just a lack of opportunity to think their way to travel less. Thus, a program to provide such an opportunity to think their way to travel can have a substantial effect in reduction of car use.

Transport policy makers, and environmental policy makers, need to give attention to the fact that car use reduction is the most effective approach for CO2 reduction from daily life, and mobility management such as TFPs offers a promising method for significant car use reduction.

Satoshi Fujii is professor of psychological-based transportation planning research in Kyoto University and director of the Japanese Conference on Mobility Management. e-mail:

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  1. The governments can also promote the use of bicycles instead of using cars. This is still a relatively fast way of getting to where you need to go without the added pollution. It's hitting two birds with one stone because it also provides ample exercise, thus reducing the incidence of obesity in the world.

  2. Chris Bradshaw, OttawaTuesday, 23 June, 2009

    I find that travel feedback programs (TFP) developed by the author to be an exciting idea.

    I hope it can give drivers the $$ cost of each trip, along with the amount of pollutants, CO2, and even the number of seconds the driver exceeded the speed limit (or any speed they want to monitor).

    I suspect the program uses a website and requires the traveler to log in and to input certain data.

    It would be better if cars could communicate to a smart device owned by the driver, such as an I-Phone. This would provide a complete log of his use (and perhaps of any other family members who use the car), plus certain calculations and graphing.

    As a former carsharing provider, I would often hear from people wanting to share their car informally with friends. I suggested they use the rates that carsharing companies use, so they recover fixed, as well as variable, costs.

    The device I have in mind should be capable of summing all costs on a per km or per-min basis, so that owner-driver will be able to see a trip total, and hopefully ask, "Was that trip cost worth the value of the trip to me?"

    Most people ignore the fixed costs, which of course, makes driving seem cheaper than transit (fixed costs comprising about 80-85% of all car costs, but even this figure excludes home-based parking and other non-home parking costs hidden in prices and wages, plus personal time for maintenance, none of which on-line car-cost sites include).

    Thus, the device needs to be flexible to have answers for the person who reduces their driving, but finds that per-trip costs go up, as the fixed costs are being spread over less usage. At what point should the driver consider not owning that particular car at all? And what are the options for travel without a car? A smart device would do the websearching for the answers.

    Chris Bradshaw, Ottawa

  3. Proff. Satoshi that's a great article.
    can you tell me, is in kyoto university there are economic major?


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