The relationship between the built environment and nonwork travel: A case study of Northern California

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - vehicle, land use - smart growth, mode - bike, mode - mass transit, mode - pedestrian, place - low density, policy - environment, ridership - attitudes, ridership - commuting, ridership - growth


Walking, Vehicle navigation, Vehicle handling, Travel behavior, Transit, Suburbs, Smart growth, Self-selection, Residential location, Regression analysis, Regression, Public transit, Place of residence, Northern California, Nonwork travel, Neighborhoods, Motor vehicle handling, Mental attitudes, Mass transit, Local transit, Driving, Consumers' preferences, Consumer preferences, Case studies, Built environment, Bicycle usage, Bicycle travel, Automobile use, Automobile usage, Automobile travel, Attitudes


Many studies have found that residents living in suburban neighborhoods drive more and walk less than their counterparts in traditional neighborhoods. This evidence supports the advocacy of smart growth strategies to alter individuals' travel behavior. However, the observed differences in travel behavior may be more of a residential choice than a travel choice. Applying the seemingly unrelated regression approach to a sample from Northern California, the authors explored the relationship between the residential environment and nonwork travel frequencies by auto, transit, and walk/bicycle modes, controlling for residential self-selection. The authors found that residential preferences and travel attitudes (self-selection) significantly influenced tripmaking by all three modes, and also that neighborhood characteristics (the built environment and its perception) retained a separate influence on behavior after controlling for self-selection. Both preferences/attitudes and the built environment itself played a more prominent role in explaining the variation in non-motorized travel than for auto and transit travel. Taken together, study results suggest that if cities use land use policies to offer options to drive less and use transit and non-motorized modes more, many residents will tend to do so.


Transportation Research Part A Home Page: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/09658564