Social/recreational travel and its influence on transport's greenhouse gas emissions

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

technology - intelligent transport systems


This paper discusses how a quite different trip type should be the focus of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport. For many years, travel management has focussed on the "to work" travel trip so as to maximise the efficiency of the transport network during this peak travel period. This "to work" focus has transferred to greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies, as shown by work travel plans and the like.

This paper discusses how social/recreational trips should be the major focus for reducing greenhouse gas emissions; not just because social/recreational travel is at least an equivalent contributor to total vehicle kilometres travelled compared to the "to work" trip, but also because of very strong linkages between social/recreational travel and other key transport behaviours. It appears that the impetus to make social/recreational trips has always been strong; that social/recreational trips were the dominant factor in the uptake of private vehicles and these trips have a strong influence on the size of vehicle purchased. A recent study confirms that social/recreational trips that are infrequent but require a larger-than-regular vehicle, such as holiday trips, strongly influence the type of vehicle purchased.

Social/recreational travel has a symbiotic relationship with urban form; with vehicle uptake often initially being for social/recreational travel then allowing settlement growth to be achieved with low density urban forms. But now that this urban form exists, extended social/recreational travel is necessary to enable families and friends to reconnect throughout these dispersed settlements.