Transport and the recession: An opportunity to promote sustainable transport

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This paper addresses the questions of how travel behaviour is, and might be, affected by the economic recession and what it would mean for achieving sustainable transport. In contrast to what was observed during historic recessions, the take-up of sustainable transport modes appears to have increased during the current recession. I offer a possible explanation that the expansion of environmental awareness between the previous and the current economic cycle had a happy encounter with the financial advantages offered by environmentally-friendly modes during the current recession that was accompanied by fuel price increases. Linking this to what is widely known as the 'value-action' gap, which tends to be more pronounced in the area of travel behaviour, I propose that the changes to environmentally-responsible behaviour can be promoted by enlarging the return expected from the behavioural change in question (by adding extra benefits to those arising solely from the fulfilment of individual's belief). This leads to the argument that, whereas the sustainability agenda tend to lose the level of attention they enjoy during the time of economic prosperity, the recession is conversely a time in which a step change towards sustainable travel behaviour can begin and therefore more efforts towards that end should be exerted and not lost.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-226
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Planning Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2010


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