Taking the car? A survey

Click to view

Think back to the oil shocks of 1973—or even 2008: the more it costs at the petrol station, the less people are inclined to use their cars. It’s simple intuition, and many OECD governments are now using fuel taxes, in part to discourage the use of personal vehicles in favour of more environmentally friendly transport choices. A 2008 survey of households in 10 OECD countries reveals that cars are still the most popular means of getting around. The survey also explores the factors influencing how we choose to travel. Results are based on more than 10,000 responses.

The survey shows that people who are particularly concerned about the environment are generally less likely to own a car. This would imply that raising public awareness about the environmental effects of private car use can complement financial incentives, particularly if aimed at people who use cars the most: men, middle-aged people and those with higher incomes and education.

Survey findings also show how useful it is to provide information on fuel-efficiency and environmental impacts so that consumers can make informed decisions about the cars they buy.

But more is needed to dissuade people from getting into their cars. Survey results confirm that improved access to public transport will reduce car ownership and use. What improvements would encourage people to use public transport more? Mexicans are particularly concerned about security. The Swedes cite reliability. In France, convenience is ranked as the most important factor. Overall, being within five minutes of a public transport stop will have a pronounced effect on car use.

In general, the results underline the importance of looking at choice of transport mode and travel purpose together. Cars are the most common mode for almost all travel purposes. Some 70% of respondents report that they use their cars regularly for shopping, indicating perhaps that planning decisions to keep shops and services easily accessible, rather than encouraging out-oftown commercial centres, would reduce car use significantly.

Results of the survey imply that a mix of push-pull instruments is required to encourage more sustainable transport choices. Increasing the cost of driving and accessibility to public transport must go hand-in-hand, while taxes and regulations would be more effective when combined with information campaigns.

What about the trusty bicycle? Not surprisingly, there is a close relationship between accessibility to dedicated bicycle paths and the willingness to use bicycles. People surveyed in all of the countries are more likely to use bicycles to commute to work or go shopping than to go to school or visit friends. Policymakers are now taking cycling more seriously. Thanks to innovative payment and security technologies, there are now 24/7 self-service rental points in main cities and towns, particularly in Europe, and many areas are reporting more bicycling as a result. In other words, when it comes to personal transport choices, policies can make a difference. MA

More survey results are available at www.oecd.org/environment/households. For more information, contact Yse.Serret@oecd.org or Nick.Johnstone@oecd.org

©OECD Observer No 279 May 2010




Economic data

E-Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive paper editions delivered to you directly


Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • Africa's cities at the forefront of progress: Africa is urbanising at a historically rapid pace coupled with an unprecedented demographic boom. By 2050, about 56% of Africans are expected to live in cities. This poses major policy challenges, but make no mistake: Africa’s cities and towns are engines of progress that, if harnessed correctly, can fuel the entire continent’s sustainable development.
  • “Nizip” refugee camp visit
    July 2016: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría visits the “Nizip” refugee camp, situated between Gaziantep and the Turkish-Syrian border, accompanied by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek. The camp accommodates a small number of the 2.75 million Syrians currently registered in Turkey, mostly outside the camps. In his tour of the camp, Mr Gurría visits a school, speaks with refugees and gives a short interview.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • Queen Maxima of the Netherlands gives a speech next to Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto (not pictured) during the International Forum of Financial Inclusion at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico June 21, 2016.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • OECD Environment Director Simon Upton presented a talk at Imperial College London on 21 April 2016. With the world awash in surplus oil and prices languishing around US$40 per barrel, how can governments step up efforts to transform the world’s energy systems in line with the Paris Agreement?
  • Happy 10th birthday to Twitter. This 2008 OECD Observer interview with Henry Copeland said you’d do well.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Once migrants reach Europe, countries face integration challenge: OECD's Thomas Liebig speaks to NPR's Audie Cornish.

  • Message from the International Space Station to COP21

  • The carbon clock is ticking: OECD’s Gurría on CNBC

  • If we want to reach zero net emissions by the end of the century, we must align our policies for a low-carbon economy, put a price on carbon everywhere, spend less subsidising fossil fuels and invest more in clean energy. OECD at #COP21 – OECD statement for #COP21
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa. blogs.worldbank.org
  • Pole to Paris Project
  • In order to face global warming, Asia needs at least $40 billion per year, derived from both the public and private sector. Read how to bridge the climate financing gap on the Asian Bank of Development's website.
  • How can cities fight climate change?
    Discover projects in Denmark, Canada, Australia, Japan and Mexico.
  • Climate: What's changed, what hasn't, what we can do about it.
    Lecture by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, hosted by the London School of Economics and Aviva Investors in association with ClimateWise, London, UK, 3 July 2015.
  • Is technological progress slowing down? Is it speeding up? At the OECD, we believe the research from our Future of ‪Productivity‬ project helps to resolve this paradox.
  • Is inequality bad for growth? That redistribution boosts economies is not established by the evidence says FT economics editor Chris Giles. Read more on www.ft.com.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .

Most Popular Articles

Poll

What issue are you most concerned about in 2016?

Unemployment
Euro crisis
International conflict
Global warming
Other

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2016