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Do changes in neighborhood characteristics lead to changes in travel behavior? A structural equations modeling approach

  • Cao, XinYu
  • Mokhtarian, Patricia L
  • Handy, Susan L

Suburban sprawl has been widely criticized for its contribution to auto dependence. Numerous studies have found that residents in suburban neighborhoods drive more and walk less than their counterparts in traditional environments. However, most studies confirm only an association between the built environment and travel behavior, and have yet to establish the predominant underlying causal link: whether neighborhood design independently influences travel behavior or whether preferences for travel options affect residential choice. That is, residential self-selection may be at work. A few studies have recently addressed the influence of self-selection. However, our understanding of the causality issue is still immature. To address this issue, this study took into account individuals’ self-selection by employing a quasi-longitudinal design and by controlling for residential preferences and travel attitudes. In particular, using data collected from 547 movers currently living in four traditional neighborhoods and four suburban neighborhoods in Northern California, we developed a structural equations model to investigate the relationships among changes in the built environment, changes in auto ownership, and changes in travel behavior. The results provide some encouragement that land-use policies designed to put residents closer to destinations and provide them with alternative transportation options will actually lead to less driving and more walking.

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Paper provided by Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis in its series Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series with number qt9967365w.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:itsdav:qt9967365w
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  1. Cao, Xinyu & Mokhtarian, Patricia L & Handy, Susan, 2007. "Cross-Sectional and Quasi-Panel Explorations of the Connection Between the Built Environment and Auto Ownership," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt3xn9176t, University of California Transportation Center.
  2. Crane, Randall & Crepeau, Richard, 1998. "Does Neighborhood Design Influence Travel?: Behavioral Analysis of Travel Diary and GIS Data," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt4pj4s7t8, University of California Transportation Center.
  3. Xinyu Cao & Susan Handy & Patricia Mokhtarian, 2006. "The Influences of the Built Environment and Residential Self-Selection on Pedestrian Behavior: Evidence from Austin, TX," Transportation, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 1-20, 01.
  4. Handy, Susan & Cao, Xinyu & Mokhtarian, Patricia L., 2005. "Correlation or causality between the built environment and travel behavior? Evidence from Northern California," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt5b76c5kg, University of California Transportation Center.
  5. Bagley, Michael N & Mokhtarian, Patricia L, 2001. "The impact of residential neighborhood type on travel behavior: A structural equations modeling approach," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt12q634n2, University of California Transportation Center.
  6. Schwanen, Tim & Mokhtarian, Patricia L., 2005. "What Affects Commute Mode Choice: Neighborhood Physical Structure or Preferences Toward Neighborhoods?," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt4nq9r1c9, University of California Transportation Center.
  7. Schwanen, Tim & Mokhtarian, Patricia L., 2005. "What if You Live in the Wrong Neighborhood? The Impact of Residential Neighborhood Type Dissonance on Distance Traveled," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt5hh713d6, University of California Transportation Center.
  8. Cao, Xinyu, 2006. "The Causal Relationship between the Built Environment and Personal Travel Choice: Evidence from Northern California," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt07q5p340, University of California Transportation Center.
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