An assessment of Voluntary Travel Behaviour Change delivery in England as an alternative to highway construction

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There is a growing body of international evidence available that shows highway construction fails to solve issues of congestion and improvements to the local economy. There is also evidence that due to changes of land use and expectations of being able to travel from the land opened for development that traffic is induced to the highway network. Alternative methods of managing travel demand; such has Voluntary Travel Behaviour Change (VTBC) initiatives have been delivered internationally. A significant VTBC scheme, called the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF), was delivered in the United Kingdom between 2011 and 2015. This paper focuses on the people who delivered these initiatives, rather than the individuals required to change their behaviour. This is to understand how transport planners’ views influence the type of VTBC initiatives that were delivered. The study included a survey of 69 bid managers for LSTF projects and interviews with 17 council officers. The survey found that 80% transport planning officers understood the concept of induced traffic compared to just 10% of the wider population. It was also evident that the sample group was a homogenous group, where their views on issues such as climate change, congestion and the factors that influence how we travel were remarkably similar. The findings show that despite the evidence that highway construction does not provide a solution to travel demand, the decisions about which schemes are funded remain with non-transport experts, such as government ministers and local politicians, and this invariably leads to highway ‘solutions’ being chosen which limit the potential success of any VTBC initiative to create long-term change to travel behaviour.




Williams, D. G., Chatterton, T., Parkhurst, G., & Spotswood, F. (2019). An assessment of Voluntary Travel Behaviour Change delivery in England as an alternative to highway construction. Case Studies on Transport Policy, 7(2), 318–329.

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