Edited by Robin Hickman, Moshe Givoni, David Bonilla and David Banister
Chapter 32: Car-fixation, socialization, and opportunities for change
Private car use – being a source of accidents, noise, and local pollution – is one of the main threats to urban quality of life (Garling and Steg, 2007). Moreover, private car use is one of the predominant drivers of greenhouse gas emission and global warming. In order to effectively reduce the use of private cars not only does travel demand have to be reduced, but also its use must be steered to more sustainable forms of travel. A crucial factor here is the willingness of people to change their behaviour and to switch to new forms of transport. However, can we assume that offering equal alternatives of travel is enough to make people switch to more sustainable forms of transport (e.g., use public transport or a bike)? This chapter will propose the phenomenon of ‘car-fixation’ as a possible explanation for the limited success of intervention programmes aimed at changing car-use patterns. The chapter will then explore how socialization processes might contribute to car-fixation, and describe how particular groups of car users are more prone to fixation than others (e.g., men more than women, rural areas more than urban) based on these mechanisms. Strategies for preventing and overcoming car-fixations that are rooted in psychological models will also be proposed.
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