Schmitz, S., Becker, S., Weiand, L., Niehoff, N., Schwartzbach, F., & von Schneidemesser, E. (2019). Determinants of Public Acceptance for Traffic-Reducing Policies to Improve Urban Air Quality. Sustainability, 11(14): 3991. doi:10.3390/su11143991.
Air pollution remains a problem in German cities. In particular, the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) annual limit-value set by the European Union of 40 µg/m3 was not met at ~40% of roadside monitoring stations across German cities in 2018. In response to this issue, many cities are experimenting with various traffic-reducing measures targeting diesel passenger vehicles so as to reduce emissions of NO2 and improve air quality. Identifying the determinants of public acceptance for these measures using a systematic approach can help inform policy-makers in other German cities. Survey data generated from a questionnaire in Potsdam, Germany, were used in predictive models to quantify support for investments in traffic-reducing measures generally and to quantify support for a specific traffic-reducing measure implemented in Potsdam in 2017. This exploratory analysis found that general support for investments in such measures was most strongly predicted by environmental and air pollution perception variables, whereas specific support for the actual traffic measure was most strongly predicted by mobility habits and preferences. With such measures becoming more common in German cities and across Europe, these results exemplify the complexity of factors influencing public acceptance of traffic-reducing policies, highlight the contrasting roles environmental beliefs and mobility habits play in determining support for such measures, and emphasize the connections between mobility, air pollution, and human health.