This entry was posted on Thursday, December 4th, 2008 at 2:06 pm and is filed under Bicycle advocacy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
Dr Tilly Line, a researcher at the University of the West of England, has just completed a PhD: ‘The attitudes of young people towards transport in the context of climate change.’
She found that young people find the prospect of driving cars more attractive than other modes of travel, modes that are kinder to the environment.
Her study concentrated on the views of young people aged between 11 and 18 years and the findings found an “overwhelming desire” by young people to drive despite the risks to the planet and individual health.
“Overall it was found that the participants have a general understanding of the link between transport and climate change, but when it comes to their attitudes towards different modes, they place higher value on identity, self-image, and social recognition than the environment,” said Dr Line.
“For example, the participants pointed to learning to drive as ‘a mile-stone in teenage life’ - something that everyone does at seventeen. They also pointed to the car as a symbol of social status and the importance of their role as a driver in their friendship groups.”
Dr Line said this has implications for the take-up of other modes of transport and that the marketing of cycling, in particular, needs to change:
“Transport policy aimed at reducing the public’s reliance on the car and increasing their use of alternative modes, should recognise such values, particularly in relation to soft policy measures (including marketing activities) targeting the socio-psychological motivations for travel choice. For example, one answer may be to promote cycling as a signal of success and ‘being cool’, rather than promoting the environmental benefits of this behaviour.
“The importance of climate change shouldn’t be forgotten however. It isn’t the case that young people dismiss this issue, but more that they feel powerless to make a difference. I found that the young people think of climate change as being something that will not be felt until far off in the future and that there is little that they can do as individuals.
“On a positive note, I found that a number of the young people welcomed the idea that hard policy ideas leading to enforced travel behaviour away from reliance on cars would lead to a change in behaviour. But that this would only be possible if walking, cycling and public transport was easily accessible and reliable.”
An 18 year old man interviewed for the study said:
“I think some people may want to help the environment, but they don’t do anything about it. But then again, if they were forced to, then they’d have to…I mean, eventually, it’s going to happen anyway. It’s going to come to a point in time where there’s going to be a ban on cars…there’s just going to be no feasible way they can have all the cars on the road.”