Research shows that walking, cycling or using public transport promotes physical activity which is beneficial for health. However, the way we choose to travel is also influenced by the environment, for example, the cost, reliability and convenience of public transport, ease of walking and cycling and availability of parking. Because of this, there is a focus on building cities and towns that provide healthy environments that encourage people to walk, cycle and use public transport. Within these environments, some additional strategies such as incentives are often assumed to encourage individuals to walk, cycle and use public transport, but there is not enough research to show whether or not they work.
Specifically, the greatest scientific uncertainties for both financial and environmental interventions lie in the feasibility of the intervention to affect behaviour, including acceptability, experience and uptake; any unintended consequences; and any differences across individual, economic, and policy contexts. As result we have designed a feasibility and pilot RCT of a financial intervention to promote alternatives to the car implemented in an environment designed to be conducive to activity.
- Aims of the study
- Unit role
- Partners and stakeholders
- Data sharing
The aim of the study is to assess whether a randomised controlled trail of a package of measures implemented by policy makers to incentivise the use of alternatives to the car and disincentivise car use feasible.
- To assess the operational practicality of working with policy makers to randomly roll out a package of financial (dis)incentives and use data from their organisations for analysis
- To assess the feasibility of recruiting a sample of residents of a new town into a study and estimate the response rate that could be expected in future studies
- To understand new residents experiences of moving into a new environment, the potential for changes in travel patterns in that context and experience of the incentives
- To assess the feasibility of intervention to bring about change in travel behaviour and understand the potential mechanisms of behaviour change, acceptability of (dis)incentives, uptake and use of incentives and unintended consequences.
This is a mixed-methods three arm randomised controlled trial. Participants will be randomised to one of three groups
- Control; In this condition participants will continue with standard practice. They can contact the Travel Plan Co-ordinator to claim a range of travel incentives, for example, £50 walking and cycling equipment vouchers.
- Intervention; This involves reducing the effort required to obtain the incentives. A package of incentives is delivered directly to participants via email.
- Intervention Plus; This involves reducing the effort required to obtain the incentives and increasing the dose by delivering a package of incentives of a greater size directly to participants via email.
A subsample of participants will participate in qualitative interviews. Participants will be followed up at 3 and 6 months.
Dr Jenna Panter – University of Cambridge
Dr Jean Adams – University of Cambridge
Professor Steve Cummins – London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Dr Louise Foley – University of Cambridge
Dr Kate Garrott – University of Cambridge
Clare Gibbons – South Cambridgeshire District Council
Unit led study with responsibility for data.
The study is sponsored by the University of Cambridge.
This work is funded by a grant the National Institute for Health Research, School for Public Health Research (SPHR-PROG-WSBT-CS2). Intervention costs for the current study were supported by Living Sport and South Cambridgeshire District Council. The grant supports three linked studies exploring individual and environmental approaches to promote alternatives to the car.
The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR.
Please see our Data Sharing pages.