Positive approach to reducing environmental impact

One of the effects of traffic and transport is their environmental impact, as reflected in the resulting air and noise pollution and climate change. The theme 'Environment' focuses on this problem as this is a theme that affects us all. Limiting environmental impact starts with behavioural change, and the challenge is to address this as positively as possible.

Behavioural change
Where improving the environment is concerned, unpopular measures are often taken which do not always have the desired effect. DTV Consultants uses a different approach, whereby we apply our experience obtained in various projects, such as the European EMOTIONS project. In all these projects, we look at the image of various forms of transport. The result: 50% of the decisions are based on emotions and feelings rather than on purely rational grounds. By making people feel positive, you approach them via their emotions, and as a consequence, they may be more inclined to change their behaviour.

Air pollution
Behavioural change is important. In order to reduce air pollution, motorists must use their cars less frequently or at least drive more economically. This is the only way to limit the emission of fine particles and NOx. The Air Quality Act in the Netherlands aims at achieving this. The Act requires all local governments to screen and analyse air quality problems. Recovery programmes will then be drawn up to show how and when they will tackle situations where the norms are exceeded. In order to meet the European standards, the city of Maastricht and other municipalities, for example, are developing air quality plans, a policy development process we support. The air quality plan includes a programme of realistic measures. These measures are then publicised, for example through an information market for residents and councillors, by organising consultation evenings or by publishing press releases and thematic newsletters.

We also organise the air quality game, a role play for residents, businesses and municipal officials. In the game, the limit values for air quality are exceeded at a number of sites. The participants form groups and compile a programme of measures with which to resolve the problems outlined. Through the game, the participants learn how to deal with the dilemmas relating to air quality and the interests involved. Furthermore, they acquire a sense for the scope and importance of the measures.

In order to improve air quality, we are also involved in CROW’s SOLVE (Fast Solution for Air and Traffic) programme. This programme offers municipalities a cohesive package of immediate, fast solutions to improve air quality on and around local roads. We are currently investigating the effects of a Green Wave and ODYSA®, an individual speed advisory tool. Motorists following the instructions of ODYSA®, will be able to cross the next junction without making a stop. The results of this research are expected to show that these systems are beneficial for traffic flow and vehicle emissions. A car travelling at a steady pace creates far less pollution than a car that is constantly braking, stopping and accelerating. Yet another of our projects involves analysing roundabouts. The results will answer the question what is better for the environment: a roundabout or a junction with traffic lights. This is probably the case, except in busier times when a car will probably have to stop more often at a roundabout. It is then important to find the best solution both in terms of traffic flow and in terms of the environment.

Noise pollution
Environmental impact is not just about air pollution, but about noise pollution too. A German study has shown that people who live near a motorway have a 7% more chance of dying from a range of illnesses. When it comes to choosing the right environmental measure, we also study noise pollution. Road humps may be an environmental measure, but many road humps cause more noise nuisance and vibrations. An Intelligent Speed Adapter that prevents cars from speeding would then be a much better system.

Climate change
Another important environmental theme is climate change. This is mainly caused by the huge increase in the emission of greenhouse gas, CO2. In order to ensure a 20% to 30% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020 compared to 1990 (50% in 2050), the European Commission has published a series of norms. However, these norms can only be achieved if people radically limit their car use. We are working on projects to get people out of their cars.

Positive measure
Through these and future projects, we hope to help reduce traffic impacts on the environment. However, everything depends on the cause of the environmental impact: the car driver, or the tourist who flies. They must realise that they are harming the environment and that they can and should make a difference with their travel behaviour. This will not be easy, because factors play a role in awareness about traffic and the environment. Information, communication and marketing are of primary importance if we are to bring about behavioural change. We need to sell the product traffic and environment-friendly modes of transport in a positive way. Communicating this message is the challenge that DTV Consultants addresses when it comes to reducing the environmental impact.

More information?

For further information
please contact
Paul van den Bosch
31 (0)76 513 6600