Shifting to Sustainable Modes of Transportation in Boulder Colorado Using Incentives, Norms, Communication and Feedback

In order to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion, the Boulder City Council began to promote sustainable methods of transportation. Through public meetings, barriers to using alternative transportation were identified. Then, behavior change tools were employed to eliminate these barriers. For example, inconvenience was eliminated by having smaller buses run every 10 minutes between key locations in the city. In case of emergency, a guaranteed ride home program was also provided. After matching the appropriate tools with the barriers, a pilot program was implemented with local businesses and university students. These groups were encouraged to use public transit by using financial incentives like reduced cost for passes. When students and business people began using the transit system, a norm appeal was created for the rest of the city. In addition, vivid communication was used to promote sustainable modes of transportation. For instance, one high profile community event had cyclists race against motorists across town. The convenience of bicycling was demonstrated when the cyclists won. Finally, feedback was provided to the public through local media.

Evaluation has revealed an increase in pedestrian trips by 3.5%, in bicycle trips by 2.2% and in transit trips by 1.7% Between 1990 and 1994, there was a 6% modal shift from single-occupant vehicles. Moreover, Boulder's well planned transit system has played an important role in attracting interest from corporations who are looking for locations in which to set up office. Therefore, the program resulted in significant benefits for the local economy.

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