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
Time for transport people to walk the talk
TWO DAYS AFTER appointing her 15th Prime Minister, the Queen died. This issue of LTT is the first to appear after that very sad event - two weeks in which there have been myriad tributes to her dedication and character, and extensive reflections about the 70 years during which Queen Elizabeth II reigned, and the massive changes that have occurred over that time. 
Decision time for England’s biggest road project. What are the implications? (Part Two)
The recently completed examination of the revised National Highways proposals for a new downstream Lower Thames Crossing of the Thames between Kent and Essex exposed some fundamental issues about how the rationale behind its justification was both presented and tested, believes Phil Goodwin. In this second part of his review of these matters, he looks in detail at three issues of more general significance, and the wider questions they highlight about major road scheme appraisal and the robustness of the review process for them.
Uber thinking goes beyond taxis
FROM ITS BEGINNINGS in the early days of the last decade, Uber was clear about its plans for long-term disruption to the transport system - and of a willingness for self-disruption too. Keen observers recognised the company’s long-term goal was more than simply helping users ride in other people’s cars. It sought the eventual ability and role of letting those looking for travel facilities book any option within its app. It was not the only startup with a vision of a fully tech-enabled transportation future of this kind, of course.