IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Why do young adults choose different transport modes? A focus group study


  • Simons, Dorien
  • Clarys, Peter
  • De Bourdeaudhuij, Ilse
  • de Geus, Bas
  • Vandelanotte, Corneel
  • Deforche, Benedicte


Active transport might be well suited to counteract the decrease in physical activity and the increase in weight gain in students and working young adults (18–25 years). To promote active transport in this neglected age group, knowledge of factors influencing all transport modes is needed. Focus groups were used to explore factors influencing transport choice of studying and working young adults, for short distance travel to various destinations. Nineteen students (mean age of 21±1.1 years) and 17 working young adults (mean age of 23±1.5 years) were recruited. Three focus groups were conducted with students and three with working young adults. Content analysis was performed using NVivo 9 software (QSR International). Grounded theory was used to derive categories and subcategories. Young adults talked about several factors that influence transport choice, which could be categorized in three themes: Personal factors, social factors and physical environmental factors. Some factors were reported as very important for choosing between transport modes, such as autonomy, travel time, financial cost and vehicle ownership; some as less important, such as the built environment and perceived safety and some as not important at all, such as ecology and health. Most factors were discussed by both students and working young adults, but some differences were found between the two groups, mainly based on income and living situation. When promoting active transport in young adults, health benefits or ecological benefits should not be emphasized. Focus should be put on cycling instead of walking, on flexibility, speed, good social support and low costs. Also, more bicycle storage and workplace facilities should be provided. It should be avoided that young adults own a private car and the public transport system should be optimized to fit their needs.

Suggested Citation

  • Simons, Dorien & Clarys, Peter & De Bourdeaudhuij, Ilse & de Geus, Bas & Vandelanotte, Corneel & Deforche, Benedicte, 2014. "Why do young adults choose different transport modes? A focus group study," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 151-159.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:trapol:v:36:y:2014:i:c:p:151-159
    DOI: 10.1016/j.tranpol.2014.08.009

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Schafer, Andreas & Victor, David G., 2000. "The future mobility of the world population," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 171-205, April.
    2. Gee, Gilbert C. & Takeuchi, D.T.David T., 2004. "Traffic stress, vehicular burden and well-being: A multilevel analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 405-414, July.
    3. Morency, Catherine & Trépanier, Martin & Demers, Marie, 2011. "Walking to transit: An unexpected source of physical activity," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 800-806, November.
    4. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1991:81:6:771-773_3 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:jotrge:v:24:y:2012:i:c:p:443-450 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Vandenbulcke, Grégory & Dujardin, Claire & Thomas, Isabelle & Geus, Bas de & Degraeuwe, Bart & Meeusen, Romain & Panis, Luc Int, 2011. "Cycle commuting in Belgium: Spatial determinants and 're-cycling' strategies," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 118-137, February.
    7. Lachapelle, Ugo & Noland, Robert B., 2012. "Does the commute mode affect the frequency of walking behavior? The public transit link," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 26-36.
    8. Shannon, Tya & Giles-Corti, Billie & Pikora, Terri & Bulsara, Max & Shilton, Trevor & Bull, Fiona, 2006. "Active commuting in a university setting: Assessing commuting habits and potential for modal change," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 240-253, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:trapol:v:63:y:2018:i:c:p:1-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Hagen, Jonas Xaver & Pardo, CarlosFelipe & Valente, Johanna Burbano, 2016. "Motivations for motorcycle use for Urban travel in Latin America: A qualitative study," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 93-104.
    3. Aldred, Rachel & Woodcock, James, 2015. "Reframing safety: An analysis of perceptions of cycle safety clothing," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 103-112.
    4. repec:eee:transa:v:103:y:2017:i:c:p:172-184 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Cass, Noel & Faulconbridge, James, 2016. "Commuting practices: New insights into modal shift from theories of social practice," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 1-14.
    6. Hopkins, Debbie, 2016. "Can environmental awareness explain declining preference for car-based mobility amongst generation Y? A qualitative examination of learn to drive behaviours," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 149-163.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:trapol:v:36:y:2014:i:c:p:151-159. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.