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Practice ecology of sustainable travel: The importance of institutional policy-making processes beyond the traveller

Williams, David G.; Spotswood, Fiona; Parkhurst, Graham; Chatterton, Tim


David G. Williams

Fiona Spotswood

Tim Chatterton


© 2019 The Authors Changing mobility behaviour towards activities and actions that have a less detrimental impact on the environment, public health and society is an objective of transport policy jurisdictions globally. In line with a burgeoning body of research examining behaviour and social change, this paper explores the governmental systems that influence mobility behaviours through a social practice lens. This paper blends two social practice theoretical models, the ‘3-Elements Model’ and ‘Systems of Provision’ as a means of understanding the delivery of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF), a central government grant scheme for English local authorities. We examine how the meanings, materials and competences within the practices of bid writing by local authorities and scheme selection by government influenced the distribution of funding to local authorities. The research starts from the principle that, where funding is provided by central government, in the case of this research that of the UK, an opportunity is created for mobility practices to change. The significance of funding is not easily theorised by the 3-Elements model but is more helpfully explained when that model is blended with the wider Systems of Provision model to create a model of practice ecology. Our theorisation allows for a rigorous exploration of the ‘practice scaffolding’ which shapes how people travel. Policymakers are recommended to consider a practice ecology approach when developing mobility management schemes to tackle air quality, climate change and obesity issues more effectively.


Williams, D. G., Spotswood, F., Parkhurst, G., & Chatterton, T. (2019). Practice ecology of sustainable travel: The importance of institutional policy-making processes beyond the traveller. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 62, 740-756.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 28, 2019
Online Publication Date Mar 19, 2019
Publication Date Apr 1, 2019
Deposit Date Mar 20, 2019
Publicly Available Date Mar 20, 2019
Journal Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
Print ISSN 1369-8478
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 62
Pages 740-756
Keywords behaviour change, practice theory, voluntary travel behaviour change, transport policy, sustainable mobility
Public URL
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