Monday, March 26, 2012

Changing Travel Behavior: Punishment vs. Reward

Being in the business of finding ways to change travel behavior, I have dabbled in both reward and punishment. Charging for parking as a tool to get employees not to park in on-street spaces is a form of punishment, while giving out iPods to those who carpool a certain number of days each month is a reward. I have never thought that one might be more effective than the other until I read Eric Jaffe's piece, "Should We Pay People to Drive Off Peak," in Atlantic Cites Place Matters.

He writes about a group of researchers led by Taede Tillema of the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, who recently designed a study to compare the effects of congestion pricing (punishment) to a Dutch program called "Spitsmijden," or "peak avoidance" (reward).
"In an upcoming issue of the journal Transport Policy, Tillema and colleagues report that a reward system like "Spitsmijden" may indeed be more effective than punishments."
The researchers combined data from a previous study and a previous survey and found that paying people not to drive during peak times changed behavior 37% of the time, whereas boosting tolls during peak times changes behavior only 15% of the time. A nagging question, as the author points out, is if paying people not to drive during peak times works best, who will pay them?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ranking the Most Livable, Innovative Cities in America

Is your city among the smartest in terms of urban planning and policy making? Zipcar, Inc. this week released its "Future Metropolis Index," a ranking of highly populated cities in five categories: innovation, sustainability, vibrancy, and creativity-efficiency-livability-optimism (a combo category).

Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Boston top the "innovation" category. Tuscon, Portland, and San Francisco are most "sustainable." El Paso, NYC, and San Diego are most "livable."

Read the details

The ranking drew the attention of Urban Land Magazine.

Zipcar commissioned the study by KRC Research. The study contends that cities that rank high on "optimism" will fare better economically.