Curbing Automobile Use for Sustainable Transportation: Analysis of Mode Choice on Short Home-Based Trips

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - surveys, ridership - mode choice, policy - sustainable, mode - bus, mode - subway/metro, mode - pedestrian


Walking distance, Walking, Trip length, Travel distance, Travel behavior, Surveys, Seattle-Tacoma Metropolitan Area (Washington), Puget Sound Region, Mode choice, Modal choice, Cycling, Choice of transportation, Bus usage, Bus travel, Bicycling, Automobile use, Automobile usage, Automobile travel


The use of automobiles for short trips is an often-neglected issue in the effort to reduce automobile travel. This paper uses a 1999 activity survey from the Puget Sound region of Washington State to analyze transportation mode choice for short home-based trips. Short trips are defined as those within the 95th percentile walking distance in the data, here 1.40 miles (2.25 km). The mean walking distance was 0.4 miles (0.6 km). Results show that the mode distribution was automobile (75%), walk (23%), bicycle (1%), and bus (1%). Several personal, household, trip, and neighborhood characteristics were associated with mode choice of short home-based trips. Walking and bicycling are found less likely as the individual’s age increases. People in multi-person families, especially those with children, are less likely to walk or use the bus. Since eating out and social/recreational activities were significantly associated with walking, promoting an environment that attracts people’s interest and provides activity opportunities could encourage people to walk rather than drive on short trips.