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Post your ideas! How do we make the 'gas price bubble' permanent?
So here we go again, folks: A steep rise in gas prices forces impressive changes in travel habits. . . for awhile. Transit use in L.A. is reportedly up 10 percent already. But will it last?
The familiar cycle goes like this:
- Something happens in the world (political unrest in oil producing countries, hurricane on the Gulf Coast, fill in the blank) that causes gasoline prices to spike.
- Driving becomes too expensive and people start looking for alternatives.
- Travel modes shift dramatically toward sustainable modes; the number of vehicle miles traveled decreases, as do traffic deaths.
- A handful of lifelong conversions occur for those discovering that biking, walking or taking transit helps them save cash, lose weight, reduce their stress, etc.
- But as gas prices eventually ease back to normal after the crisis ends, most people revert to previous driving levels the moment their wallets can handle it.
- Rinse and repeat.
Which leaves us scratching our heads: What will it take for these changes to be permanent?
The amazing Mark Fenton (professional transportation advocate and wearer of one amazing moustache) coined the phrase sticky environments as a precursor for lasting social change. Sticky environments include three components: programs, projects and policies. Programs help encourage and educate around behavior change on a mostly individual level (think Weight Watchers). Projects improve the built environment for more sustainable travel (trails, sidewalks, new transit lines).
And policies change the rules by which decisions are made in the first place. Like, maybe a mega gas tax increase?
So what about it? I'm throwing the topic out for discussion on this blog. Respond with your favorite ideas for policies that will make our environment for permanent transportation change stickier.
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