Applying psychological concepts to assist the uptake of eHUBs

In a paper, the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences presents ten recommendations to stimulate the uptake of eHUBs based on psychological concepts. These recommendations are translated into specific actions that cities can take to promote the uptake of eHUBs by car owners.

In the eHUBS project, six European cities are aiming for greener, CO2-neutral cities by providing shared and electric mobility hubs. Instead of using private cars, citizens can use electric and shared modes from a mobility hub in their neighborhood. But how can you entice citizens to start using these hubs, as for many it proves difficult to abandon or decrease the use of their private car? Behavior change is key to make the eHUBS a success. The research group Psychology for Sustainable Cities of the Amsterdam University of Applied Science, one of the project partners in the project, has drawn up ten recommendations how psychological principles can be used in communication strategies around the eHUBs.

As one of the three knowledge institutions in the eHUBS consortium, the Research Group Psychology for Sustainable Cities of the Amsterdam University of Applied Science (AUAS) uses insights from applied psychology as a theoretical framework for conducting behavioral research around the eHUBS. The focus of this research is to support cities, firstly the eHUBS pilot cities, to develop a mix of effective interventions: such measures would have the objective to change the mobility patterns of citizens, and in particular of car users and car owners, and to foster a modal shift towards shared and electric mobility, as offered at eHUBS.

In general, according to behavior change principles, citizens will start using the eHUBs if they feel they are capable of using them, if the physical and social environment is structured in such a way that they have the opportunity to use the eHUBs and if they are motivated to use the HUB.

The recommendations address either the capabilities, the opportunities, or the motivation of citizens to use the eHUBs. A prerequisite for achieving the overarching goal of reducing CO2 emissions through eHUBs is that cities focus on the target group of car owners. When people swap active and/or green transport modes – such as walking, biking, or public transport – for shared vehicles, the promotion of eHUBs can have an opposite effect, namely a higher energy uptake and more vehicles on the road.

The overarching principles guiding the implementation of eHUBs should be:

  • Keep a clear focus on the right target group -car owners
  • Take care of the proper placement of the eHUBs, i.e. position them where the target group is and where the undesirable behavior occurs -neighborhoods with a high density of car owners using private cars.

This study focused on private cars, but also holds valuable lessons for e-mobility in city logistics; e.g. for service engineers.

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