TAPAS.network | 31 January 2024 | Round Table Discussion

Achieving behaviour change in transport — what should be the guiding principles?


WE ARE VERY PLEASED to record our holding of the second successful TAPAS Round Table event in association with the ‘Transport Thinking Forum’. This addressed the theme of achieving behaviour change in transport.

A challenging introductory presentation by Pete Dyson from the University of Bath looked hard at the concept of ‘Carrots and Sticks’ as applied within the transport world to influencing travel behaviour and questioned its efficacy and suitability as he had set out in his paper published on TAPAS in November 2023 (link to paper). He offered some alternative paradigms and approaches based on his work on behaviour change at creative communications and advertising consultancy Ogilvy, the Department for Transport, and now his PhD research exploring how theories of cooperation might inform policymaking around sustainable travel behaviour.

Pete wrote the ground-breaking book, ’Transport for Humans — are we nearly there yet’ with Ogilvy director, Rory Sutherland.

Pete Dyson was followed by three shorter contributions bringing different perspectives to the behaviour change discussion. These were made by David Metz, honorary professor in the Centre for Transport Studies at University College London, on ‘Heuristics’; Dr Lara Salinas, Director of Service Futures Lab, London College of Communication, University of the Arts London, on ‘A Reflective Societal Readiness Assessment’; and Lisa Martin, Director at Steer on 'Reflections on 25 years in travel behaviour change’.


Then after the break, there was a facilitated discussion, which sought to find some areas of potential policy and practice innovation to support behaviour change activity.

All in all, it was generally regarded as a very stimulating and productive event.

After the formal discussions, most of those present enjoyed an hour or so’s socialising at the excellent facilities provided by our event host, sustainability-driven engineering and design consultancy Whitby Wood.

We were delighted with the response from our participants drawn from the TAPAS contributors and network members. Those present comprised 20 people bringing a range of perspectives and experience on this important subject. This lead to an excellent discussion and kick off what we hope to be a continuing exchange of thoughts on TAPAS about this topic.

We look forward to our next Round Table event, considering another challenging transport topic. Details will be posted here in due course.

Access to material from these Round Table events is limited to those attending or who express a specific interest in the subject matter and in joining the professional discussion on it. If you would like to be considered for such access let us know using this link.


Links to available presentations: (download links are only active for those who participated in the Round Table)

  • Pete Dyson: Beyond ‘Carrots & Sticks’ — examining the principles of behaviour change

  • David Metz: Learning from heuristics about travel behaviour

  • Lara Salinas: A Reflective Social Readiness Assessment for Behaviour Change

  • Lisa Martin: Reflections on 25 years in travel behaviour change

The discussion panel is only available to those who participated in the Round Table.
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Peter Stonham is the Editorial Director of TAPAS Network

Programme for the Round Table

Wednesday, 31 January 2024, 16:30-20:30, at the offices of Whitby Wood, 91-94 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7AB.

16:00 Tea/Coffee and networking

Session 1 — Setting the scene

16:30 Welcome and Introduction (Dr Arman Farahmand-Razavi, Chris Murray and Peter Stonham)
16:50 Keynote by Pete Dyson: Beyond Carrots & Sticks – why it’s time to replace this unhelpful transport policy metaphor
17:15 Questions and Clarifications to Pete Dyson
17:35 Observations on Heuristics from Professor David Metz
17:50 Observations on Societal Readiness Levels & Assessment from Dr Lara Salinas
18:00 Observations on twenty years or so of behaviour change approach in transport from Lisa Martin
18:10 Summary and synopsis (Pete Dyson/Peter Stonham)

18:30 Tea/Coffee Intermission

Session 2 — Exploring actions and outcomes

18:45 Introduction to the session and framework for discussion by Peter Stonham
19:00 Facilitated discussion and capturing the key emerging issues in the light of the Session 1 content and other considerations that are now raised (Pete Dyson/Peter Stonham/Peter Jones)
20:15 Summarising the discussion — Peter Stonham
20:25 Concluding remarks and next steps (Pete Dyson and Peter Jones)
20:30 Informal discussions/Networking (until 21:30)

Read more articles by Pete Dyson
Beyond Carrots & Sticks – why it’s time to replace this unhelpful transport policy metaphor
It is said that language can drive us apart, and that’s the case with the concept of deploying carrots and sticks, widely, but mistakenly, adopted by the transport planning and policy fraternity, believes Pete Dyson co-author of ‘Transport for Humans’, doctoral researcher at University of Bath and former behavioural scientist at Department for Transport. He points to its unwanted messaging implications in presenting the case for change to decision-makers and transport users, and proposes there are better ways to discuss travel behaviour change
Read more articles on TAPAS
Le Chatelier’s principle - protecting road projects from the rigours of consistent appraisal
Despite significant work to improve and refine the way road schemes are appraised and evaluated, they seem to still be having a charmed life in terms of winning approval and funding, says Phil Goodwin. He reflects on why this might be happening, drawing on the thoughts of a pioneering French scientist.
Not quite what we planned for - but still an asset
IF THE PAST is not always a good guide to what will be happening in the future, the present is not an awful lot better. We live in unstable times, and the current state of the world is not one of comfortable equilibrium, or certainty on which to build our plans. Not that it ever really was so in modern times, apart from a few relatively brief and tranquil epochs. One thing that looking backwards can reveal, of course, is how we were once anticipating things might pan out – and the closeness of that to actuality.
Comprehensive evaluation study provides new transport planning resource
How the Elizabeth line has impacted on the transport system in the capital is being carefully monitored by Transport for London, but its significance in terms of transport planning is wider. Peter Stonham looks at the short and long term evaluation framework and the outputs it will deliver.