An examination of recent trends in multimodal travel behavior among American motorists

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - bike, mode - bus, mode - car, mode - pedestrian, mode - rail, planning - surveys, ridership - behaviour, ridership - commuting, ridership - mode choice, ridership - young people


Multimodal car user, sustainable transport, travel behavior, trends 2001–2009, USA


According to national statistics, 87% of all trips in the United States are by automobile and 90% of commuters typically get to work by car. Statistics for individual trips or the main mode of commuting do not capture variability in individual travel behavior over time. This article uses the 2001 and 2009 National Household Travel Surveys to analyze recent trends in the share of multimodal motorists who use a car and also walk, bicycle, or ride public transport during a day or week. This article identifies trends of multimodal behavior among car users in the United States and provides profiles of these multimodal motorists.

During a typical day about 14% of American car users make at least two trips by foot, bicycle, or public transport, while during a typical week about 25% of motorists make at least seven trips by means of transport other than the car. Results from a bivariate analysis and logistic regressions suggest significant shifts toward more multimodal behavior among motorists between 2001 and 2009. Multimodal motorists tend to be younger, educated beyond high school, in households without cars, and live in high-density neighborhoods with access to a rail system. Results suggest that planning for walking, cycling, and public transport benefits a larger proportion of the U.S. population than suggested by traditional trip-based analysis.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor&Francis, copyright remains with them.