Risk avoidance and risk tolerance on the way to school

Gössling, S.; Kees, J.; Hologa, R.; Riach, N. & von Stülpnagel, R. 2024. Children’s safe routes to school: Real and perceived risks, and evidence of an incapacity-incapability space. Journal of Cycling and Micromobility Research, 1000019(2), 1-9.


photo by note thanun on Unsplash

Ideally, children and young people should be able to make their way to school actively, independently and, above all, safely. However, unsafe routes are often an obstacle to this both real and perceived. In this research article, the perspectives of children and teenagers regarding the traffic safety of their ways to school are examined. The traffic risks as perceived by different age groups of young people are then compared with insurance data and the views of headtechers.

The results provide new insights into pupils’ fears and anxieties in traffic. For example, typical age-dependent stages of risk avoidance and tolerance on the way to school were identified. These are determined by the social environment, individual attitudes, and transport modes, as well as cognitive and motoric skills.

Parking violations as an economic gamble

Gössling, S., Humpe, A., Hologa, R., Riach, N., & Freytag, T. 2022. Parking violations as an economic gamble for public space. Transport Policy, 116, 248-257.


Video to the article

The article deals with the question under what circumstances it is worthwhile for motorists to buy a parking ticket when parking in public spaces or to park without ticket. A share of drivers may feel compelled to ‘cheat’, weighing the price of parking fees against the cost of fines, or to simply park illegally outside designated areas.

The study is situated in Freiburg, Germany. Results confirm that in the inner city, it is economically rational not to pay parking fees of the time. To make vehicle ownership and use less attractive, the price of parking needs to be high. Fines need to be high in relation to fees, and control densities need to constitute significant detection risks. On 17 September 2023,Frederic Rudolph has contributed to the Parking Day in the German city of Hagen with a presentation of the study’s findings.

The real cost of a car

Gössling, S., Kees, J., & Litman, T. 2022. The Lifetime Cost of Driving a Car. Ecological Economics, 194, 107335.


The car is one of the most expensive consumer goods in the household, and yet understanding of its private (internal) and social (external) costs per vehicle mile, year, or lifetime of driving is limited. This paper provides an overview of 23 private and ten social cost items,

and assesses these for three popular car models in Germany for the year 2020. Results confirm that motorists underestimate the full private costs of car ownership, while policy makers and planners underestimate social costs.

Several newspapers discussed the results of this research, including Geo, Handelsblatt und Forbes.

Health and the city

Gössling, S. Nicolosi, J. & Litman, T. 2021. The Health Cost of Transport in Cities. Current Environmental Health Reports, 8(2), 196-201.


This review summarizes recent advances in transport economics with relevance for health cost assessments in urban contexts. It discusses the role of cost-benefit and cost-utility analyses in transport decision-making. This provides the basis for a conceptualization of a comprehensive transport health cost model that considers both physical and mental health aspects. A comparison of the role of car and active transport (walking and cycling) is presented, and key insights for transport planners are discussed.