Car-sharing, autonomous taxis, bicycles, pedelecs – all this seems to be the only reasonable solution in urban areas to get a grip on traffic chaos, parking space shortage, environmental pollution and individual health. Especially the subject of cycling is currently experiencing a hype. However, with far too little result.
The explanation may be so obvious that we do not recognize it.
Mobility is preliminary dealt as the connection of „departure“ and „arrival“. And so: many efforts to connect these points as „safe as possible“ are inconclusive. Does man not switch towards a bike because the bike paths are ailing, cycling is dangerous, e-bikes are expensive, or the weather is bad? No. (Even if different studies may suggest that. They are wrong).
Forgoing your own car implies an emotional loss. Not having your own car to most of us is more than just losing a means of transport. The barrier to behavioral change is not a functional one. It is one of the biggest emotional barriers that prevents the change:
The car is a precious third place – and this is not mobility
The emotional value of this third-place beats all reasonable arguments. No matter how frustrating owning and driving a car is – especially in big cities – it’s my shelter. My car is my castle.
Guess why cars are more and more like tanks? Right: its not a car – it is a castle.
Here I am my own master. Nobody tells me what kind of music I should listen to, whether I’m singing, screaming, dreaming or blowing my nose or how many handkerchiefs and empty bottles are around me. And even though I have only a few inches of privacy, it’s MY privacy. I do not have to share it with anyone and I do not want to share it with anyone. And should I lose that? Against a bike? Honestly?
An emotional loss succeeds only through an emotional gain.
Only when the argumentation of politics, the explanations of the representatives of new mobility and the discussions in the private sphere will focus on aspects of the emotional gain, only then something will actually change. That’s not the case yet. Man is human. And that is currently not adressed. As long as owning a car is seen like owning a castle people will defend it with any means. And as long as any participants of new forms of mobility are perceived as: „can not afford to own a castle like I do“ true change will not happen.
A kingdom does not dissappear by functional arguments. It dissappears when something else is more aspirational.
Especially in Germany this is going to be a tough challenge.