• Pete Dyson

  • Theme:Transport, Behaviour and Society
  • Project:From ‘I’ to ‘we’: how theories of social cooperation inform policymaking around reducing reliance on car ownership
  • Supervisor: Lorraine Whitmarsh ,Gregory Maio
  • Industry Partner: Transport for West Midlands (TfWM)
  • The Gorgon's Head - Bath University Logo
Photo of Pete Dyson


Pete joins AAPS from the Department for Transport, where he was Principal Behavioural Scientist working on Covid response, sustainable travel behaviour change and internal capability building. Prior to this, Pete enjoyed a career developing research and creating interventions at Ogilvy's Behavioural Science Practice, working on a wide-range of public and private sector challenges. These included safety in factories, charitable donations, public health campaigns and reducing food waste.

Pete is co-author of 'Transport For Humans: Are we nearly there yet?'. Written with Rory Sutherland, it was published in 2021. The book brings to life the many reasons and ways our transport systems can be more people friendly by using the power of behavioural science. Illustrated with examples and new ideas, the book has been popular with transport practitioners across the world. Alongside his research, Pete conducts talks, workshops and consultancy to help organisations apply these ideas and build their own behavioural science capabilities.

His PhD research is on the topic of sustainable travel behaviour change, specifically on 'Mobility Credits' - an innovative new policy being trialled in the UK to reduce urban car dependency. His studies will use experimental methods to investigate the psychology of car ownership and usage, looking at how Mobility Credits are designed, targeted and communicated. Pete's specific interests are in the application of social norms, neighbourhood level co-operation and ways of conducting traveller segmentations.


  • BBC Radio 4 made an episode about my book, Transport For Humans. Available to listen online.
  • In the UK, we collectively drive 1.8 billion kilometres each day: the distance to the sun and back six times over.
  • During Covid, I set a new record for cycling non-stop from Land's End to London: 290miles in 11hrs 50mins.
  • I'm learning the power of R Studio.
From ‘I’ to ‘we’: how theories of social cooperation inform policymaking around reducing reliance on car ownership

Our UK transport system needs to decarbonise and part of the solution is to enable people to travel differently - to reduce the need for private car ownership and increase the ability to use public transport, walking and cycling. Research finds that for most people, avoiding car use is the single most effective action they can take to reduce their carbon footprint.

National and city are responding with aspirations to reduce car dependence, like “We have a vision for Leeds to be a city where you don't need a car” and “Scotland aims to reduce vehicle distance travelled by 20% by 2030”. They are creating policies that enable households to trade-in their car and receive credit to use alternative local transport services. Lots of these policies are targeted at individuals, rather than engaging streets or communities. Pete wants to study whether there are better ways to engage more people to think in terms of 'we' not just 'me'.

There is limited research available on which households want to reduce their car ownership, how this differs within neighbourhoods, and whether people's attitudes and values towards their local area, community and environment are a big influence.

Pete will research how these new transport policies have been performing, looking specifically at the West Midlands area. Pete will then use social science methods, like surveys and interviews, to understand who is interested in shifting away from car ownership and why. Finally, he will use insights from social psychology to develop a new policy that enables communities to collaborate by trading multiple cars in together and receiving a benefit that improves their local area and transport experience.

Pete's research will make an impact on local transport operators, who are looking for more advanced ways to understand how people want to travel and need more robust and creative methods to design, communicate and test new policy ideas.

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