This paper analyzes strategies that can be successfully pursued to implement measures to reduce car traffic in what has traditionally been a very car-centric planning praxis. Analytically, the paper use path dependency theory to provide an understanding of why certain types of measure are not implemented in cities on as widespread a basis as policy objectives may require, and to understand how transport planning path dependence in urban authorities might be changed. Empirically, the analysis builds on a comparative case study of transport and land use planning in Swedish cities.
The most effective strategies do not appear to be radical policies leading to fast implementation of goals about sustainable transport, for example by implementing very car restrictive measures, even in the face of resistance from the public and from within the city administration. The results support an approach that from a strategy making perspective can be understood as an institutionalizing process by which internal organizational and external public support for car restrictive and potentially controversial measures are built.
Implementation may be achieved by building new institutions within city administrations, where routines and norms gradually change so that car restraint measures gradually become part of the normal way of doing transport planning. This then starts to lock-in certain patterns of travel and make further car restraint measures more feasible and institutionalized as part of a standard menu of measures that cities use, and not something out of the order.