What would motivate you to use your car less?

Imagining safer, healthier spaces

Today is World Car Free Day! This annual event encourages motorists to give up their car for 24-hours. Are you giving up your car for the day? 

Cities around the world are backing the initiative, which aims to imagine a world where cars are used less, reducing the hazards of congestion and air pollution.

In London, Mayor Sadiq Khan, is supporting London Play’s ‘Play Streets’ program. This sees the closure of some residential roads to vehicles from September 22-24, creating safe spaces for children to play and for people to walk and cycle.

By inspiring activities like these, World Car Free Day shines a light on the benefits for the environment, communities and public health of breaking the habit of regular car use. It asks us to consider the impact of taking more trips on foot, by scooter or bike, or using public transport.

Vision for effortless mobility

Data source: National Travel Survey, England, 2022

At Flowbird, our vision is for effortless multimodal mobility, where cars are used for fewer and shorter journeys, or journey legs.

Our interoperable systems enable people to park cars – but also charge them, then ride, scoot, or walk to their destination.

Most agree that the future of mobility includes car travel, albeit there’s a race to replace petrol and diesel cars with cleaner, electric vehicles. However, there’s a collective responsibility to mitigate the negative effects of regular, single occupancy car use. 

Data from the National Travel Survey, England, 2022, shows that it’s only for trips under 1 mile where cars and vans are not the dominant transport mode. Two thirds (67%) of trips of between one and five miles are taken using a car or van. It’s clear that few ‘sustainable swaps’ – made by many – could be transformative.

Public transport needs patronage

Given that nearly 50% of all transport emissions (or 12% of global emissions) comes from passenger road travel, the transport sector is under pressure to decarbonise. 

Many bus companies have set out on a journey towards ‘zero emissions’, among them Flowbird partner Lothian Buses, which this week announced an order for 50 new electric double deck buses for Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. The first of these will appear on streets in early spring 2024.

Despite this, with limited funding, progress remains slow. By October last year, in the UK, there were 1,724 ZE buses in operation out of a total fleet of 37,800.

What the industry needs is for people to vote with their feet and use public transport. More riders means more revenue to help operators rise to the ZE challenge. 


Operators are working hard to introduce electric vehicles to their fleets

Kind to the environment and to public health

The environmental argument for using passenger transport is compelling. As an example, travelling on light rail emits around a sixth of the equivalent car journey, according to UK government figures. Taking the local bus emits just over half the greenhouse gases of a single occupancy car journey, while helping to decongest our roads. 

If further motivation is needed to ride transit, the effect on health is undeniable. Less congestion, cleaner air: healthier people. Air pollution is connected to major health issues and affects the entire body. Added to which, public transport is partly ‘active’, with walks to and from bus stops and rail stations helping to burn calories and get blood pumping


Motivating sustainable travel choices

To mark World Car Free Day, we polled our LinkedIn audience, to ask them what would motivate them to use their car less. 

We gave three optional answers:

  1. Simpler multimodal travel
  2. Faster public transport
  3. Cheaper public transport

After a week, we received a clear message that incentivising car drivers to use alternative transport modes depends on all these things. Four in ten (39%) respondents said that faster public transport was the most important factor; just over one third (36%) chose simpler multimodal travel; and a quarter (25%) said cheaper public transport was key.

How can technology suppliers help?

At Flowbird, we’re committed to delivering technology that drives positive behaviour change and encourages more use of public transport. We help operators to be more efficient in their delivery of mobility services – so they can offer a faster, cheaper, connected user experience.

Some of the technical linchpins we provide for this are effective park and charge infrastructure, open loop transit payments and Mobility-as-a-Service. Our advanced solutions are already helping cities around the world to make it simple to plan, book and pay for parking, transport and mobility services. The solutions are there to give people the choice to travel sustainably without compromising on the speed and convenience of their journey.

Convenience and value are powerful incentives

What’s exciting for us at Flowbird is that we can play a part in helping authorities to incentivise sustainable travel. Through open transit payments, where fare caps and automatic concessions give transit passengers the confidence they are always paying the best value fare available. And through MaaS apps, which provide a one-stop shop for multimodal travel and city experiences, with bundle deals creating cost savings for users.

It’s clear to us that, with strong collaboration between cities, operators and technical suppliers, multimodal transport can deliver the simplicity, speed and value that users need to motivate better travel behaviour. We believe there can be a future for urban mobility that is less car-centric, more sustainable, and sits at the heart of thriving, healthy cities.


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