Getting people to think about commuting in new ways is an essential step towards bringing positive change to your community. The best way to solve problems like traffic congestion, parking availability, parking expenses and pollution is to get people using alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles. When this is done at an organizational level, the beneficial impact can be immense.
However, when it comes to creating change, some strategies work better than others. The RideAmigos team has decades of combined urban transportation management experience, and we’ve seen a lot of well-intentioned efforts fall flat:
- Lack of incentive. Abstract notions of saving the environment or reducing company costs won’t drive change. Instead, give commuters something tangible to work toward.
- Make participation difficult. If your alternative transportation program is confusing or difficult to use, people will likely revert to their original behaviors. Seek easy solutions!
- One-off events and programs. Giving away a few gift cards or holding an annual Bike to Work Week might get some people to give alternatives a try, but these approaches by themselves aren’t likely to lead to lasting change. Ongoing support is a must.
- Leading with a bad example. Is your business trying to encourage employees to rethink how they commute? Are the company’s executives and senior staff members doing it? If not, you shouldn’t expect success until the bosses start showing up in buses, bikes and carpools.
- Ideas without tools. Even if people are open to changing their habits, it’s hard to do if you don’t provide them with tools. Sending out encouraging emails is a good start, but providing secure bike storage, free transit tokens and trip-finding or carpooling apps show you’re serious.
- Guilt and shaming. Research has proven that making people feel guilty and ashamed of their actions is among the least effective ways to enact behavioral change.
- Failing to consider context. Do most of your commuters drive more than 10 miles to work? If so, biking won’t be a popular option. Similarly, public transit won’t work if they’re not near a bus or subway line. Don’t focus on just one solution, and make sure what you’re selling makes sense.
If you’re looking to encourage commuters to make a long-term shift to community-friendly modes of transportation, we recommend that you avoid these strategies and seek out proven solutions. At RideAmigos, we know what works, what doesn’t, and why. Learn more about our approach to effective commuter engagement, and sign up for our newsletter for more great commuter tips!
Photo by @seawonkery