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View | Cycling to sustainability: The need to change commuter behaviour

View | Cycling to sustainability: The need to change commuter behaviour

Mini India is on the cusp of a behavioural transformation in favour of cycling. This is witnessed by the growing number of bicycle enthusiasts and…

Sunday, Mar 20

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India is on the cusp of a behavioural transformation in favour of cycling. This is witnessed by the growing number of bicycle enthusiasts and appointment of bicycle mayors in forty Indian cities. With increased political awareness and will, cities like Kolkata, Rajkot, and Bhubaneswar have already introduced a few behavioural change incentive schemes to mainstream cycling. Anyone who has promptly broken a New Year’s resolution would know that changing our travel habits for a sustainable lifestyle can be a tall order, one requiring a consistent commitment of effort and emotion. Despite knowing that cycling can improve our health, reduce vehicular congestion and pollution, and make our streets, communities and cities more vibrant, the resistance to pedal is immense. No wonder, cycle-based work trips constitute a low 13 percent of all urban commute trips in India, and are in fact witnessing a steady decline. The crux of the matter is that people are afraid to change.

To help individuals overcome their resistance to change, cities can adopt the globally acclaimed behavioural change model , developed by James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente. The model posits that behavioural change is an iterative, long-drawn-out process. People undergo behavioural change in stages, each of which could last days or even months. Hence, cities should adopt a multipronged approach to nudge citizens, such that their behavioural change is tangible, replicable, scalable, and sustainable.

Initially, cities may nudge individuals to cycle around parks, within their neighbourhoods, etc., for recreation, in the hope that cycling becomes a habit. Hyperlocal […]

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