Cars have large overheads in terms of energy, materials, physical space requirements, accident casualties, and local & global pollution. But, particularly in anglophone countries, few interventions seem to have had significant impact in mitigating this.

What is the documented research on best practice for encouraging behaviour change towards more sustainable transport, particularly in urban areas?

  • 1
    You don't think the CAFE standards in the US have lead to an improvement in vehicle emissions? What about the rapid growth in EV adoption? I recently saw projects that even without significant increases in petrol costs, or decreases in EV costs, adoption is predicted to hit over 20% by 2030.
    – LShaver
    Dec 2, 2016 at 1:19
  • Where have you looked? I would suggest looking at effects of zoning changes in cities, restricting vehicle access to urban cores, success/failure in HUD/car pooling, effect of subsdizing mass transit. Jan 15, 2017 at 18:16

1 Answer 1


Some interesting work on this problem is being done by researching university campuses as "microcosms" of society. I recently came across a paper that used my school, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as one of eight example campuses in the U.S. for a study of best practices for promoting modal change in transportation, from SOV (single occupancy vehicle) to public transit and active transportation (walking and biking).

The paper, published in 2003, is titled "Sustainable transportation planning on college campuses".

From the paper:

The key finding is that college campuses are clearly ‘de-marketing automobile commuting’ (Wright and Egan, 2000) and actively promoting alternative transportation modes. In order to create more bicycle and walking friendly campuses efforts need to focus on the following seven measures:

  • TDM [transportation demand management] strategies
  • organization
  • planning
  • facilities
  • promotion
  • education
  • enforcement

Although these measures need to be tailored to local conditions, they should not be implemented alone because only the development of highly integrated strategies have the potential to improve sustainability (Potter and Skinner, 2000).

This graph is a bit old (1995) but shows a comparison between four different transport modes at the eight campuses in the study, vs the national average:

enter image description here

Here's a summary of what each of the seven measures entail:

  1. TDM strategies: Policy and practice related to parking rates, zones, and hours, public transit subsidies, park and ride programs, zoning, and urban planning.
  2. Organization: Staff and committees dedicated to discussing student/staff/faculty concerns about active and public transportation, organizing surveys, and acting as liaison between university and city planners.
  3. Planning: Dedicated planning process and personnel related to commuting and parking.
  4. Facilities: Dedicated bicycle lanes, pedestrian overpasses of busy roads and intersections, bicycle racks, traffic signaling for bicycles, and bicycle sharing programs, among others.
  5. Promotion: Print and on-line resources to support active commuters, and public awareness campaigns in both campus and local media.
  6. Education: Both in-person classes and on-line courses for bicyclists regarding safe and lawful bicycling.
  7. Enforcement: Mandatory registration, police enforcement of bicycling laws (both for cyclists and auto drivers on roads shared with cyclists).

If you want to go even deeper, this book, published in 2004, might be a good place to start: Transportation and Sustainable Campus Communities by Will Toor and Spenser Havlick. You can actually read quite a bit of it in the preview on Google books. The book includes eight in-depth case studies, including a few of the campuses in the paper cited above, as well as one in Canada for a non-U.S. perspective.

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