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An Emotional Journey: addressing the behavioural challenges for sustainable transportation

Blog: By Beth Morley, Mobility and Human Insights Manager, Cenex

As I began my morning train ride to work today, I was reminded of the range of emotions a simple commute can trigger. From the beautiful sunrise over misty fields to the annoying sounds of other passengers’ earphones, I experienced a range of emotions throughout my journey leaving me unsure of how I felt about it. What I did realise was that the transport industry often overlooks this emotional aspect of travelling.

The pursuit of faster travel has evolved into a prevailing obsession. Public transportation, while a sustainable choice, can sometimes leave us dissatisfied, overshadowed by the sheer joy of cycling down a scenic route. This duality, intertwined with strong emotions, is a facet often neglected in discussions around sustainable mobility. To truly encourage sustainable transportation, a deeper understanding of these emotions is crucial, both in designing sustainable travel solutions and articulating their benefits.

It is essential to recognise that not all sectors within the transport industry overlook the emotional aspect of travel. The automotive sector, for instance, adeptly taps into our feelings, illustrating a mastery in appealing to various emotional triggers. For those involved in sustainable travel and public transport, strengthening the connection with the emotional aspect of travel becomes imperative.

In addressing these challenges, behavioural science research plays a pivotal role. By exploring the complex emotions entwined with our journeys, we gain valuable insights into the decision-making process. Our research has unveiled fundamental information about public perceptions, revealing concerns about shared chargepoints and the impact on community harmony. Positive emotions also significantly influence travel choices, as exemplified by the positive impact of friendly bus drivers on the appeal of demand-responsive services.

The challenges associated with sustainable travel are often behavioural in nature. Decarbonisation necessitates not only changing traveller behaviours but also understanding the motivations behind those behaviours. Shifting the mindset of decision-makers, traditionally influenced by car-centric planning, requires innovative problem-solving approaches. Ensuring proper access to urban environments is critical, and access to accurate data is indispensable for informed decision-making.

Given recent discourse on the ‘war on motorists,’ it is evident that those promoting sustainable travel must refine communication strategies to emphasise that sustainable travel can indeed be a positive experience. Shifting the mindset of decision-makers and ensuring access to urban environments requires a dual focus on effective data utilisation and innovative problem-solving.

In conclusion, as we navigate the complex landscape of sustainable travel, let us not overlook the emotional side of the journey. Addressing and understanding the feelings evoked by travel allows us to create more holistic, traveller-centric transportation solutions that not only reduce carbon emissions but also enhance our daily commutes. It’s not solely about reaching point B from point A; it’s about the emotional journey along the way.

If you’d like to see some further work Cenex have done or how we can help you with your sustainable travel solutions please click here: Sustainable Travel Solutions (cenex.co.uk)