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Are we moving in the right direction? Indicators on transport and environmental integration in the EU: TERM 2000

Public awareness and behaviour

Indicator 31: Public awareness and behaviour


.The environmental effects of transport are of increasing public concern and there is growing support for improvements in public transport and better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. However, pricing measures to restrain car use appear to receive little public support.

Figure 7.1: Public opinion regarding solutions to transport problems (representative sample of 16 000 EU citizens)

Responses to question: ‘In your opinion, which one of these measures would make it possible to most effectively solve environmental problems linked to traffic in towns?’

Source: (CEC, 1999b)


  • Raise public awareness and knowledge.
  • Improve transport behaviour.

Public awareness and attitude towards the environmental threats brought about by the transport sector.

Note: Acceptance of transport and environment policies correlates positively with availability of information and awareness of environmental problems. Public awareness and knowledge of environmental problems is therefore central to the development of appropriate transport policies


Policy and targets

The Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters (ECE/CEP/43) aims at promoting environmental education and awareness among the public through the provision of environmental information.

Improving the environmental performance of the sector requires a shift of individual behaviour towards more environment-friendly patterns. Individual travel behaviour is embedded in specific technical-social-organisational networks that can make alternative patterns of behaviour difficult to accept. Understanding how individuals’ travel demand is generated within these networks can help highlight specific pressure points where change is more easily brought about. Different social groups have different attitudes towards transport behaviour, and educational level and financial status play important roles in determining travel behaviour (OECD/GD(97)1).


Eurobarometer polls are carried out every few years at the request of DG Environment. Results from recent polls are shown in Figure 7.2.

Figure 7.2: Reasons for complaining about one's local environment, poll results (% with ‘very much/quite a lot reason to complain)

Source: (CEC, 1999b)

The transport-related problems are the amount of traffic, air pollution (40 %) and, to a lesser extent, damage to the landscape and noise. This is confirmed by findings of surveys in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Norway and Switzerland.

Complaints about the local environment are less frequent in Sweden, Ireland, the Netherlands, Finland and Denmark, and more frequent in Italy, Spain and Greece (1995 Eurobarometer poll results)

Future work

Future priorities may include:

  • establishment of a consistent methodology to enable this indicator to show differences in public awareness in Member States and relative changes in the EU with time;
  • inclusion of more specific questions on transport and the environment in Eurobarometer;
  • surveys to be conducted specifically for TERM on a periodic basis;

Future work should also attempt to provide information and data on public awareness and patterns of transport behaviour of different social groups.


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