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“I've decided to give up my car”

What are the factors that would drive someone to change their lifestyle and, especially, give up their car? Alexandre Rigal, a visiting researcher at EPFL’s Urban Sociology Laboratory, studied this question for his thesis, which he carried out as part of EPFL’s broader PostCarWorld project. Rigal showed that deciding to give up a car is a process that usually starts with a major life change – like moving or getting married – or with meeting someone who inspires us to adopt a new lifestyle. The process then continues step by step until a tipping point is reached and the individual makes the switch, generally as part of a larger shift in values. Rigal’s research also shows that small incentives can help support change or create favorable synergies for the change process. For instance, he believes that driver’s licenses “have become a kind of bottleneck for the adoption of clean transportation methods, because they can be used only for motor vehicles. A better idea would be to have ‘mobility licenses’ where, in order to get one, you would have to take lessons on how to ride a bike on urban and rural roads in the daytime and nighttime, and on how to repair a bike.” Following his thesis, the researcher developed different scenarios of the mobility of the future in the social sciences and humanities journal Temporalités.