The impact of the built environment on travel behavior: The Swiss experience based on two National Travel Surveys

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, planning - surveys, ridership - behaviour, land use - impacts, land use - planning


Built environment, Travel behavior, National travel surveys, Transport policy


This paper examines the effects of the built environment on travel behavior (i.e., number of trips and distance traveled) differentiated by mode of transport while statistically controlling for both mobility tool ownership and sociodemographic factors. The statistical analysis is based on two combined datasets stemming from the Swiss National Travel Surveys for 2010 and 2015. One key finding is that high population and employment densities, frequent public transportation, short distances to points of interest (e.g., bars, cinema, sports facilities) and high-quality local recreation at one's place of residence reduce daily distances traveled by car. This finding underpins recent activities in spatial planning undertaken by the Swiss government in order to reduce energy consumption triggered by motorized individual travel. Finally, we recommend incorporating the attributes of individuals' residential self-selection into the framework of national travel surveys, an attribute still missing from the Swiss Travel Census. This is of particular importance in order to statistically control the effect of the built environment using a further dimension that could enhance debates on transport policies and measures.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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