Category Archives: Transportation & behavior change

Electric scooters vs. electric bikes

IMG_20180403_164432.jpgI happily own an electric bike, but it’s not optimal for every purpose. So I jumped at the opportunity to rent an electric scooter, which is now possible in D.C., to see whether it’s better. For my purposes, it’s not, but for yours? Read on.

I rented a scooter from Lime four times to take short trips around town. Such rentals have great appeal to people with limited walking range (e.g. me) – especially for climbing hills.  But my focus here is on whether owning an electric scooter would be preferable to owning an electric bike. Before getting to the direct comparison, I’ll briefly discuss the positive and negative aspects of using an electric scooter for everyday transportation. Continue reading


Riding an electric bike with ME/CFS

Recently I rented an electric bicycle and rode it for three hours and twenty-seven miles. That was too much for me, but I’m excited about the bike for shorter rides. I thought I’d share my experience in case others with relatively moderate ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis, aka chronic fatigue syndrome) are considering buying one. Continue reading

What it’s like to ride an electric bike

specialized-turboRecently, the Wife and I visited Lancaster County, PA – aka Amish country – and decided to take a self-guided bike tour around the farmland. This was possible, despite my chronic illness, because Intercourse Bike Works rents electric bikes. I rode a Specialized Turbo, taking it up and down rolling hills along smoothly paved country roads. Three hours and twenty-seven miles later, I’m practically an expert. Continue reading

Just build bike paths? It worked in Sevilla, se dice

Bike path at the University of Indonesia. Wrong kind of bike.

Bike path at the University of Indonesia. Wrong kind of bike, unfortunately.

Another entry in the “if you build it, they will come” debate – As a previous post noted, a large, careful, and well-funded program in Britain found that simply building bike paths wasn’t enough to get large numbers of people to use them. Social marketing and perhaps other incentives were needed. My students and I found a similar pattern in Indonesia. Yet a recent article in the Guardian claims the contrary for Sevilla. (Or Seville, if you’re one of those.) Continue reading

Social marketing

What is social marketing?

Social marketing is using the techniques of marketing to change behaviors – influencing people to change their practices rather than simply to buy products. It has been used to help people quit smoking, use different light bulbs, and study more effectively. It could help people choose less-polluting transportation here in Jakarta.

When to use social marketing?

„If motivating people to change is:

  • Easy or unimportant, then education might be appropriate – for example, providing information about train schedules or the location of bicycle lanes works for people who already are committed to these forms of transportation. But generally (and sadly) education is less effective than marketing or force. Continue reading

Malmö, Sweden: ridiculously good traffic program

The efforts to promote mass transit and cycling in Malmö, Sweden, are truly inspirational. I perform research on behavioral change – institutional and individual – related to transportation in Jakarta. The goal is to aid efforts that will reduce air pollution – for easier breathing and for reduced global warming. Malmö has perhaps the most committed and creative efforts to do this. While local conditions vary, other polities could adapt much of what the Malmöans are doing.

  • The city’s website provides information on a large range of ambitious programs to promote sustainability – not just in transportation.
  • This brochure describes initiatives relating directly to traffic. It’s not for specialists: it features everyday language and big, pretty pictures. It certainly inspired me. I particularly like the way that they combine social marketing with engineering: building nice facilities is important but only part of promoting change.
  • The “No Ridiculous Car Trips”campaign is the most famous aspect of Malmö’s efforts. Its goal is to get drivers to think twice before using their cars for short journeys. Other cities have copied this program. Here’s a video about it: