Students car use and its effect on environmental attitudes

Project details

Full project title: Students Car Use and its Effect on Environmental Attitudes

Sponsor: UWE

Project manager and researcher: Dr Steve Melia

Start date: January 2011

Finish date: March 2011

Project briefing sheet: See submitted article

Project summary

This study concerns the relationship between students’ travel behaviour and their attitudes towards environmental issues. Previous studies have shown car use correlated with attitudes towards climate change, and with attitudes towards various policy measures designed to reduce car use.

This study aimed to explore these relationships amongst students. 305 questionnaires were completed by undergraduates from several built environment courses. The findings reveal a surprisingly high level of car availability and use, even amongst first years living on campus with no parking.

  • There is a statistically significant relationship between car availability and level of concern about climate change, though the differences are small.
  • There was no significant relationship between car ownership or use and acceptance of scientific evidence about climate change, although there was a significant gender difference: all of the ‘climate sceptics’ in the sample were male.
  • There were strong associations between car availability/use and support for policies around parking and allocation of road space to pedestrians and cyclists, but not with other measures such as investment in rail and increasing tax on petrol.

The conclusions of this paper consider the implications of the findings for teaching of sustainable transport and climate change issues to built environment students.

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