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From government-led behaviour change to bottom-up understanding: the transition to low-carbon transport on motorcycles in Taipei, Taiwan.

Huang, Yi-Chen


Yi-Chen Huang


Leslie Mabon

Richard Laing


Taiwan's prevailing motorcycle usage has been widely discussed in relation to urban air quality. As Taiwan's policy-makers seek to reduce mobile pollution sources in cities, the large number of petrol-powered motorcycles within cities have become a major target to be addressed. In addition to promoting public transport usage, the shift of petrol-powered motorcycles to electric ones has been one of the goals that the Taiwan government has vigorously implemented in recent years. Many scholars have studied motorcycle issues in Taiwan, however their suggested directions are mostly top-down promotion methods such as persuading riders to change to electric vehicles, providing subsidies to use lower-carbon transport modes, expanding the public transport system, or encouraging people to change their individual travel behaviours. My research examines the issue theoretically and practically from social science theories of practice and mobility and in-depth interviews with Taipei and New Taipei City motorcycle riders to understand the motorcycle practice from the bottom-up. In light of this, I aim to provide a nuanced understanding of the motorcycle low-carbon transition in Taiwan rather than focus on the top-down promotion of government-led behaviour change. This study uses in-depth interviews to understand the issues, to complement existing discussions on largescale structural change or assessing practitioners' thoughts and needs quantitatively. For the transition process, looking at the practitioners' ideas in-depth and building a diverse discussion of perspectives differing from the direction of existing research and policy trends is crucial and valuable. The theoretical contribution of my research is to provide a different context in the research field of mobility and sustainability, which thus far has mostly focused on cars and their daily use. Since motorcycle usage is relatively popular in Asia, for many Asian countries, motorcycles are a central issue that needs to be faced in the low-carbon transport transition. Practically, my results illustrate aspects that policy-makers need to pay attention to during the low-carbon transport transition for Taiwan's motorcycle riders, such as the significance and influence of the motorcycle culture deeply embedded in Taiwanese society. My findings indicate that a 'tough' approach to transition through laws and regulation, or 'soft' approach through persuasion are both on their own not sufficient. Rather, a low-carbon mobility transition for Taiwan and beyond needs to strategically pay attention to every aspect of the change in practice, respect the meanings of the practice possessed by the practitioners, and handle the inclusion of practitioners carefully during the transition process. Attention to practice is also important to prevent disadvantaged groups of people from being affected by further inequality in the transition process, and to maintain the justice of the transition on the pathway to a low-carbon transportation society.


HUANG, Y.-C. 2022. From government-led behaviour change to bottom-up understanding: the transition to low-carbon transport on motorcycles in Taipei, Taiwan. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis. Hosted on OpenAIR [online]. Available from:

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Feb 10, 2023
Publicly Available Date Feb 10, 2023
Keywords Motorcyclists; Motorcycles; Pollution; Environmental behaviours; Taiwan
Public URL
Award Date Jun 30, 2022


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