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What Affects Commute Mode Choice: Neighborhood Physical Structure or Preferences Toward Neighborhoods?


  • Schwanen, Tim
  • Mokhtarian, Patricia L.


The academic literature on the impact of urban form on travel behavior has increasingly recognized that residential location choice and travel choices may be interconnected. We contribute to the understanding of this interrelation by studying to what extent commute mode choice differs by residential neighborhood and by neighborhood type dissonance—the mismatch between a commuter's current neighborhood type and her preferences regarding physical attributes of the residential neighborhood. Using data from the San Francisco Bay Area, we find that neighborhood type dissonance is statistically significantly associated with commute mode choice: dissonant urban residents are more likely to commute by private vehicle than consonant urbanites but not quite as likely as true suburbanites. However, differences between neighborhoods tend to be larger than between consonant and dissonant residents within a neighborhood. Physical neighborhood structure thus appears to have an autonomous impact on commute mode choice. The analysis also shows that the impact of neighborhood type dissonance interacts with that of commuters' beliefs about automobile use, suggesting that these are to be reckoned with when studying the joint choices of residential location and commute mode.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:uctcwp:qt4nq9r1c9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mokhtarian, Patricia L & Salomon, Ilan & S, Lothlorien, 2001. "Understanding the Demand for Travel: It's Not Purely 'Derived'," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt5bh2d8mh, University of California Transportation Center.
    2. Fry, Tim R. L. & Harris, Mark N., 1996. "A Monte Carlo study of tests for the independence of irrelevant alternatives property," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 19-30, February.
    3. Tim Schwanen & Patricia L Mokhtarian, 2004. "The Extent and Determinants of Dissonance between Actual and Preferred Residential Neighborhood Type," Environment and Planning B, , vol. 31(5), pages 759-784, October.
    4. Cervero, Robert, 1996. "Mixed land-uses and commuting: Evidence from the American Housing Survey," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 361-377, September.
    5. David Hensher & April Reyes, 2000. "Trip chaining as a barrier to the propensity to use public transport," Transportation, Springer, vol. 27(4), pages 341-361, December.
    6. S Hanson & M Schwab, 1987. "Accessibility and intraurban travel," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 19(6), pages 735-748, June.
    7. Cervero, Robert & Duncan, Michael, 2002. "Residential Self Selection and Rail Commuting: A Nested Logit Analysis," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt1wg020cd, University of California Transportation Center.
    8. Cervero, Robert & Radisch, Carolyn, 1996. "Travel choices in pedestrian versus automobile oriented neighborhoods," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 127-141, July.
    9. S Hanson & M Schwab, 1987. "Accessibility and Intraurban Travel," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 19(6), pages 735-748, June.
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