Category Archives: social dimensions

Winter bike to work

winter bike work logoBike to work day in the summer sees all sorts of press, in most all regions of the US. Some places–like here in Boulder, Colorado–accompany it with a winter bike to work day equivalent, which was today. Owing to the 63 degree forecast and the uptick in general interest for cycling, sponsors are reporting record numbers (again). And, my friend Garvin and his son are highlighted in this video.

It is a natural assumption that the winter folks are the more hearty and might have a more natural inclination to do it year round. But the real question is what happens to all the summer bike to work folks? Why the attrition? This is the topic of a research project soon to be undertaken by the ACT Research Group. Stay tuned.

Stop being an S O V

Welcome SOV's
I am listening to the radio. The holiday advertisements are rolling. Then a new ad rolls out. It is quick, pithy, and pointed. It draws our attention to the environmental and other costs of driving. Then it jumps right to urging you not to be an SOV (single occupancy vehicle).

The tagline is edgy, no doubt. It is surprising. It catches you (or at least, me) off-guard. I thought: who really is behind paying for the creativity of such much less the air-time. As it turns out, it is sponsored by a partnership led by Denver the Regional Council of Governments.

The campaign is clearly playing to the moral suasion argument—a strategy I have suggested that, in the past, has had very little success in the past in triggering behavioral change. I guess we can keep trying. Maybe more “edgy awareness” will help.

Do you live in a city?

A couple of observations about the following diagnostic chart that was  recently released on NPR. Its a really good start. It would be fun to have a few more cultural or socially constructed elements as criteria–as opposed to the primary elements being those of the built environment. Right now, there are more or less three that are not built-environment centrci: starbucks, applebees, pets as livestock. But, notice that it all starts with transportation: how do you get to work. This is telling.

And, from bike you go straight to having animals? I guess there is some psychological/sociological research out there about such? Then, I question if the Applebee’s criteria is all that telling?

Do You Live In A City? Hm. Let's Find Out

Maybe youth is not all wasted?

One of the best scenes from the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is when George is flirting with Mary after the dance:

(George): What do you want, Mary? Do you want the moon? If you want it, I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down for you. Hey! That’s a pretty good idea! I’ll give you the moon, Mary. 
(Mary Hatch Bailey): I’ll take it! Then what? 
(George): Well, then you can swallow it, and it’ll all dissolve see, and the moonbeams would shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of your hair… am I talking too much? 
(Man on Porch): Why don’t you kiss her instead of talking her to death? 
(George): You want me to kiss her, huh? 
(Man on Porch): Ah, youth is wasted on the wrong people! 

(Clarence): One man’s life touches so many others, when he’s not there it leaves an awfully big hole. 

Well, maybe youth is not all wasted? At least when it comes to travel.
For many years we have been urging the need for research efforts to focus on (a) the youth as an important travel submarket, and (b) the process by which youth learn their travel habits. We are now seeing a slew of efforts tackling the first; I don’t see too much activity about the latter.

A new report released by the CoPIRG Foundation demonstrates that Coloradans and Americans have been driving less since the middle of last decade. The report, Transportation and the New Generation: Why Young People are Driving Less and What it Means for Transportation Policy, shows that young people in particular are decreasing the amount they drive and increasing their use of transportation alternatives

The “analysis” is pretty straightforward, relying exclusively on descriptive statistics from elsewhere. It is pretty aggregate in its geographical focus. I am not sure I believe all they say about why these patterns will persist (people do regress). But, it does hint at a consistent story: maybe youth is not all wasted; if patterns continue, we might see a big hole in VMT? 

Cycling as Community-Based Social Marketing?

By my limited understanding, Community-Based Social Marketing (SBSM) is mainly a phrase that is linked with turning down your thermastat, buying green products, recycling, decreasing waste or other. It can talk about travel mode change, but that really is more difficult nut to crack. Nonetheless, the below might be interesting from McKenzie-Mohr. Its Canadian; its gotta be good, right?.

For the first time in the United States, internationally known environmental psychologist Dr. McKenzie-Mohr will lead a three-day comprehensive Community-Based Social Marketing workshop entitled “Fostering Sustainable Behavior,” May 21-23 on the CU Boulder campus.

The author of the international best-seller, “Fostering Sustainable Behavior,” Dr. McKenzie-Mohr presents a widely embraced methodology that identifies barriers and incentives to promote behavior changes that embrace sustainability.

The event includes a stand-alone, one-day Introductory Workshop and a two-day Advanced Workshop.

The advanced workshop provides an in-depth exploration of how community-based social marketing can be used to foster sustainable behavior. The session will introduce leading-edge material about selecting behaviors, identifying barriers and benefits (including market segmentation), applying behavior change tools
(including some exciting new developments regarding the use of commitments, norms, communication and goal setting) and piloting programs.

About this Workshop:
The cornerstone of sustainability is behavior change, because sustainability requires individuals and businesses to act, (e.g. reduce waste, improve energy and water use efficiency, change transportation modes, etc). To date, most programs have relied on disseminating information to achieve these changes.

Research demonstrates, however, that simply providing information has little to no effect on what people or businesses do. But if not ads, booklets and brochures, then what?

Over the last decade, a new approach called community-based social marketing has emerged as an effective method for promoting sustainable behavior. We invite you to attend this workshop with the founder of Community-Based Social Marketing, Dr. McKenzie-Mohr.  This training will fundamentally change the way
you think about and act on program delivery.

Who Should Attend:
Those who design and implement programs to encourage individuals, groups, and businesses to engage in sustainability-based behaviors – such as energy and water efficiency, waste reduction, transportation mode changes, purchasing, and more, will find this workshop beneficial. The workshop is also helpful for
those involved in environmental education, such as staff at zoos, aquariums, and wilderness programs. Public health professionals who work to foster active and healthy lifestyles will also benefit.

Please visit the event page
2) for more information, or sign up at

Further testament to the popularity of cycling: Would you choose cycling or S&%

This might be considered by some to be less germane to core notions of bicycle planning. It is interesting and related to active communities and active transport, nonetheless

People love their bikes. In a recent survey of 5000 Bicycling magazine readers, 50% of men and 58% of women said that—if pressed to choose between sex or bikes—they’d pick the bikes. Draw your own implications about the future of our cities, society in general or even the nature of relationships.