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Changes to commute mode: The role of life events, spatial context and environmental attitude

Clark, Ben; Chatterjee, Kiron; Melia, Steve

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Ben Clark
Associate Professor of Transport Planning and Engineering

Steven Melia
Senior Lecturer in Transport Planning


© 2016 The Authors. It has been suggested that commuting behaviours become habitual and that changes to commute mode are more likely at the time of major life events. However, evidence to support this has so far been limited to analyses of small-scale samples. To address this evidence gap, we use two waves of panel data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study (2009/10 and 2010/11) to identify and explain the prevalence of individual change in commute mode from year to year amongst a representative sample of the English working population (n = 15,200). One third of those that cycle or get the bus to work, and one quarter of those that walk to work, are shown to change commuting mode by the following year. Car commuting is more stable, with only one in ten car commuters changing mode by the following year. Commute mode changes are found to be primarily driven by alterations to the distance to work which occur in association with changing job or moving home. Switching to non-car commuting becomes much more likely (9.2 times) as the distance to work drops below three miles. High quality public transport links to employment centres are shown to encourage switches away from car commuting and mixed land uses are shown to encourage switches to active commuting (walking and cycling). Switches away from car commuting are found to be more likely (1.3 times) for those with a pro-environmental attitude. The attitude orientation is shown to precede the behaviour change, demonstrating evidence of 'cause and effect'. Overall, the study shows that changes in commuting behaviour are strongly influenced by life events, spatial context and environmental attitude.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 5, 2016
Online Publication Date May 25, 2016
Publication Date Jul 1, 2016
Deposit Date May 26, 2016
Publicly Available Date May 26, 2016
Journal Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
Print ISSN 0965-8564
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 89
Pages 89-105
Keywords commuting, life events, attitude, spatial context, longitudinal, panel data
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date May 26, 2016


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