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Towards a Transport Therapy:. Communication and. Travel Behavior. Reflexivity in. Christopher D. Congleton M.S. Institute of Transportation Studies; University of California, Davis August 2004. What are we talking about?. Transport : as the spatiotemporal mediation of people and goods.

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towards a transport therapy
Towards a Transport Therapy:

Communication and

Travel Behavior

Reflexivity in

Christopher D. Congleton M.S.

Institute of Transportation Studies; University of California, Davis

August 2004

what are we talking about
What are we talking about?

Transport: as the spatiotemporal mediation of people and goods

Automobility: as the personal (and commercial) mobility afforded by the democratization of access to systems that allow individuals to move in a self-directed fashion through the space and time of their daily lives

(Kurani, Turrentine, Heffner, and Congleton 2003)

usa transport in context
USA Transport in Context
  • The Legacy of the System of Interstate and Defense Highways (1956 Legislation)
  • Vehicle Mass Marketing: from 0 to 220 million in 100 years
  • Geopolitics of Petroleum Supply Chains
  • Postwar Boomer Suburban Sprawl
pathologies and disease disturbances in transport systems and the need for collective therapies
Pathologies and Disease (Disturbances?) in Transport Systems and the Need for Collective Therapies
  • Marginalization of segments of the population without auto access (and therefore access to the benefits of automobility)
  • Marginalization of transport alternatives to the auto
  • Contributor of planetary emissions of CO2 and criteria pollutants
  • Widespread dependence on a single fuel
  • Current positive feedback in transport
    • Development Patterns, Land Use, and Travel Behavior
    • An Arms Race for Soccer Moms
    • Congestion and Road Expansion
    • Sprawl and Big Box retailing
transport therapy
Transport Therapy?
  • Treatment of Pathology and/or Disease through communication and new habits
  • Or Letting Go? (if there can be no control)
  • Designing and Tuning Collective Thermostats:

Is there greater stability in the variety of collective self-regulation?

closing the loop
Closing the Loop



and Designing


  • My role as I see it is to systematically remove constraints in the collective construction of expanding choice sets embodying increased collective benefits
  • Collective Benefits: a subset of public goods that no one gets unless many people act in concert to acquire them. Clean air, reduced risk of global climate change, and peace as collective benefits—no single consumer can buy them.

(Kurani and Turrentine, 2002)

a simple thesis
A Simple Thesis
  • People construct meaning regarding their behavior through their communication and reflection upon it.
  • Further, such communication and reflection can be purposeful, transformative, and collaborative.
  • In pursuing solutions to transport problems, vast potential is available for collaborative design of household lifestyles in the short-term, and transport technologies and infrastructure in the long-term through such practices.
lifestyle and identity
Lifestyle and Identity

Kurani and Turrentine have focused on a portion of Giddens’ theory they call theories of “reflexively organized lifestyle”

(Kurani and Turrentine 1997)

They use a notion of lifestyle defined by Giddens as:

“…a more or less integrated set of practices which an individual embraces…because they give material to a particular narrative of self identity…it is ‘adopted’ rather than ‘handed down.’ Lifestyles are routinized practices, the routines incorporated into habits of dress, eating, modes of acting, and favored milieu for encountering others; but the routines followed are reflexively open to change in light of the mobile nature of self identity.” (Giddens, 1991)

  • Giddens (1984) defines reflexivity as “…not merely as ‘self conscious’ but as the monitored character of the ongoing flow of social life. To be a human being is to be a purposive agent, who both has reasons for his or her activities and is able, if asked, to elaborate discursively upon those reasons…”
  • This process of reflexive conversation is the starting point for a household’s construction of subsets of activity spaces accessible by different modes. Time-space slices of life, referred to as lifestyle sectors, are enacted in a locale, a space defined by its properties as a setting for social interaction.
activity analysis
Activity Analysis
  • Activity analysis sees travel as a derived demand with daily and multi-day patterns, related to and derived from differences in lifestyle and activity participation across a population (Jones, et al, 1990).
  • Households and members are the behavioral units under study, and travel is derived from changes of activity type that necessitate a change in activity location.
  • Time and Space Mapping (Hägerstrand, 1970)
  • Interdependencies and Constraints that define activity choices (Ibid.)
    • Capability Constraints
    • Coupling Constraints
    • Authority Constraints
hypothetical situation analysis
Hypothetical Situation Analysis
  • Learning Processes are critical in the spread of new technologies or practices
    • Information acquisition
    • Adaptive response (to limitations)
    • Optimization (of benefits)
  • Interactive Interviews
    • Using charts of previous travel behavior (ex: one week travel diary),
    • Households simulate the substitution of new technologies for completing previous trips, and
    • Compare the impact of new technologies in the context of previous experiences
does this technique work
Does this technique work?
  • Don’t know yet…
  • We know people can form new preferences and beliefs, but what about changing behavior?
  • Because our research has been hypothetical, technologies have not been available in the market, and we haven’t been able to evaluate behavioral changes
  • In-home interviews with “trained experts” are great for researching hypothetical markets, but are expensive and time consuming if we imagine them as a means for widespread education and behavioral change
online reflexive tools for consumer citizens
Online Reflexive Tools for Consumer/Citizens
  • What’s the minimum effort that can be applied to create a reflexive process for consumers in the real world – and where should it be placed in their decision process?
  • Could it propagate freely through social networks?
  • If we create an educational and reflexive online tool that can save people time and money and is easy to use, will they pass it on to friends and transform their lives?
  • Would you?
other current and future projects
Other Current and Future Projects
  • Traveling through Europe for the first time(!) through September filming transport alternatives and Euro-transport professional's perspectives on transport for use in a film on Sprawl.
  • Teaching an engineering course in the Fall entitled “Human Hybrid Electric Vehicle Design for Low-speed Lightweight Mode Networks”
  • Publications in Process
    • A qualified quantification of limited range vehicle markets in the U.S.
    • An evolutionary game-theoretical paper on the size and safety arms race in vehicle types
    • A policy analysis piece on the California ZEV mandate
  • Upcoming Dissertation: Study of consumer-citizen responses to a Dual Transportation Infrastructured Town
    • initially entailing focus groups, interviews, simulated LLM network travel diaries, ride and drive clinics of existing LLM exemplars, and construction of a cost/benefit analysis comparison of Passtown vs suburbia.
    • Observations and conclusions from this first phase would then be used to make  a research film on sprawl, which would be disseminated with before and after surveys to residents of these various towns. Along with a control treatment, I would study changes in respondents' preferences for housing and mode options, as well as the flow of the research instrument through respondents' social networks in order to construct housing and mode market segments.
  • Giddens, A. 1984. The Constitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of Structuration. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  • Giddens, A. 1991. Modernity and Self-Identity in the Late Modern Age. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.
  • Hägerstrand, T. (1970) “What about People in Regional Science?” Papers of the Regional Science Association, v. 24 pp. 7-21.
  • Jones, P. et al. 1990. “Activity Analysis: State-of-the-Art and Future Directions.” in P. Jones (ed.) Developments in Dynamic and Activity-Based Approaches to Travel Analysis. Aldershot, U.K.: Gower.
  • Kurani K. and Turrentine T. 1997. “Household Adaptations to New Personal Transport Options: the Reflexive Organization of Household Activity Spaces.” Institute of Transportation Studies. Davis, CA. UCD-ITS-RR-01-06.
  • Kurani, K.S. and T. Turrentine 2002. Marketing Clean and Efficient Vehicles: A Review of Social Marketing and Social Science Approaches. Davis, CA: Institute of Transportation Studies. UCD-ITS-RR-02-01. August.
  • Kurani, K.S., Turrentine T., Heffner, R.R., and Congleton, C.D. 2003. “Prospecting the Future for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Markets.” Institute of Transportation Studies. Davis, CA. UCD-ITS-RR-03-9. October.
  • United States Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) (1976) America’s Highways 1776/1976: A History of the Federal-Aid Program. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Transportation.