Stirling Uni uses Psychology to clear up congestion crisis

We’re trying to reduce the number of cars on campus


Students at Stirling University have designed a psychological intervention to reduce the number of cars on campus. The initiative comes following pressure on the University hierarchy to reduce carbon emissions and congestion on campus.

The student’s project focused on changing attitudes and perception towards driving and it’s sustainable alternatives. A large part of the intervention used marketing methods to ‘market’ the concept of sustainability whilst de-marketing the use of a car.

The intervention also aimed to improve student confidence in alternative methods of travel, by offering cycling training and participation in a BUDi scheme.

Bikes at Stirling Uni's Alexander Court are currently not widely used, and could benefit from better marketing

Bikes at Stirling Uni’s Alexander Court are currently not widely used, and could benefit from better marketing

Part of the intervention would see students taking part in more sustainable travel and in turn the scheme reciprocating/incentivising the sustainable students with free/subsidised public transport, bike maintenance classes and bike accessories.

The project, helmed by fourth year psychology students, designed a model to implement future car reduction interventions, named the Behavioural Intervention to Reduce Cars on Campus model (BIRCOC).

The BIRCOC model lets users scale the extent of their intervention to suit their needs

The BIRCOC model lets users scale the extent of their intervention to suit their needs

The BIRCOC model allows institutions to scale their own interventions in terms of size and financial cost to suit their situation, with institutions able to pick and choose what approaches to take in reducing car use on campus.

Researcher James Gray said of the report “We did notice several limitations upon evaluating the study in that there needs to be more randomised controlled trials in this field of research to draw strong conclusions about these interventions.”

So it is clear that whilst the report presents a novel approach to addressing and reducing car use on campus, further research needs to be conducted based on more concrete data to understand how we can reduce the number of people using their cars on campuses.

The Nextbike scheme represents a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to encourage student and staff use of it

The Nextbike scheme represents a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to encourage student and staff use of it

This project is the latest in a long line of University strategies to reduce carbon emissions, in particular promoting sustainable travel methods over car use.

Despite the wide research available, this new psychological method to reducing car use represents a welcomed addition to the existing literature given its multifaceted approach.

Research in this area is becoming more and more crucial as many institutions struggle with large numbers of staff and students causing major congestion issues, with some Universities also under pressure to become carbon neutral by 2030.