Making travel sustainable with ICT? The social practice of travel planning and travel information use in everyday life

Detta är en avhandling från Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Sammanfattning: Adopting the perspective of the traveller, this thesis examines how travel plans are actually made in the everyday situation and how information is used and drawn on when planning the many, often unremarkable, trips of ordinary urban life. Ethnographical field studies in southern Stockholm, Sweden, employing a practice theory perspective showed that people use a vast mixture of different types of information when planning and making trips. Therefore, the concept of travel information should be defined broadly enough to encompass informal, formal, analogue and digital types of travel information. Then, and only then, is it possible to perceive the interactions between these and see their potential as a change factor for sustainable city travel. In relation to this, situations when travel information was not used, were also identified in the qualitative data and are acknowledged and discussed in the thesis.Travel planning is in everyday practice undertaken little by little, squeezed in between other activities of daily life. It is a process more extended in time, space and content than the limited search for information about the best way to get from A to B, assumed and facilitated in many existing travel information services. Travel planning is closely connected to the overall scheduling of activities (planning of life) and thus spans much larger time frames than the single trip. Planning travel also includes consideration of issues such as preparations needed (things to be done before departure/brought on the trip); managing vehicles and equipment in time and space (getting the bicycle/car home again or safely parked); the weather (current and forecast); social relations (the potential of different travel options for relationship building or conflict triggering); social norms (e.g. of 'good parenting' or 'proper behaviour on public transport'); and health issues (wanting exercise or inability to manage stairs/luggage).The qualitative data revealed that travel information is sometimes perceived and used as a security blanket, i.e. something to hold on to and give the traveller courage on the trip until they are safe at their destination. It also showed that travel planning, depending on life situation, can be experienced as either a house of cards, i.e. if anything changes the whole house collapses and has to be rebuilt to a different layout, or a prefab building, i.e. the same prefabricated pieces are joined together in more or less the same pattern every time.Recent decades have seen rapid growth in ICT services relating to transportation. Different types of travel information services have been proposed as a means to decrease the environmental impacts of transportation through effecting behavioural change. Taking the empirical 4 insights provided by this thesis into travel planning and travel information use in practice, it is clear that travel information services of tomorrow, if connected to other ICT systems in everyday life, could be designed in a way that broadens their horizon of assistance in supporting travel planning processes in everyday life. Although, as this thesis demonstrates, the role and potential of travel information services and ICT in the work of achieving sustainable mobility should be discussed from a perspective critical of overly linear perceptions and instrumental starting points.