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Roads as New Common Pool Resources, Speed Reduction as a Public Good--Two Case Studies in Organizing Large-Scale Collective Action

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Gutscher, Heinz; Keller, Carmen; Mosler, Hans-Joachim
Conference: Constituting the Commons: Crafting Sustainable Commons in the New Millennium, the Eighth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Conf. Date: May 31-June 4
Date: 2000
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1519
Sector: New Commons
Urban Commons
Region: Europe
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
resource management
policy analysis
social organization
institutional analysis
Abstract: "Two case studies with many actors attempted to create favorable conditions for collective action through providing external organizational impetus and implementing novel action instruments. "In study 1, the task was to reduce, during a special action week, morning and evening traffic congestion that regularly formed at a highway tunnel near Zurich. Traffic back-ups result from local and temporal over-use of the common pool resource "traffic space." We attempted, by means of a publicity campaign and public collection of signed statements of self-commitment from a core group of about 18,000 regular commuters, to establish a kind of rotation system in avoiding travel at peak traffic times. This aimed to reduce the peak load and congestion. In spite of great media efforts, the widely dispersed target group could not be mobilized sufficiently. Compared to the baseline week, the total reduction of traffic back-up amounted to 10%, or two hours respectively. Per peak hour, 100 cars traveled at other, less busy times. We had aimed at a minimum goal of a reduction of 400 cars per hour. However, the study demonstrated that the contributions discussed were in fact effective and that the statistical leveling regular distribution of the uncoordinated contributions to reduce traffic during the periods of heavy traffic functioned reliably. The publicity and and public acceptance of this campaign based on voluntary contributions were large in scale. "In study 2, we aimed to reduce neighborhood driving speeds in a district of 10,000 residents. The goal was to stimulate enough cooperative behavior in the 4,000 registered car owners to clearly reduce average driving speeds. The reduced speed was the public good. The intervention succeeded in mobilizing a large group of drivers. A thousand drivers voluntarily committed themselves in writing to reduce driving speed during the four months of the experimental phase, and the measured average speed reduction was remarkable. The reduction in driving speed was comparable to that achieved elsewhere through compulsory, top-down measures, laws, and police control."

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