Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Understanding Sustainable Transportation Choices: Shifting Routine Automobile Travel to Walking and Bicycling
by Schneider, Robert James, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2011, 486; 3469491
Abstract (Summary)

A mixed-methods approach was used to develop a more complete understanding of factors that are associated with walking or bicycling rather than driving for routine travel. An intercept survey was implemented to gather travel data from 1,003 customers at retail pharmacy stores in 20 San Francisco Bay Area neighborhoods in fall 2009. Follow-up interviews were conducted with 26 survey participants in spring and summer 2010 to gain a deeper understanding of factors that influenced their transportation decisions.

The methodological approach makes several contributions to the body of research on sustainable transportation. For example, the study: (1) Explored multiple categories of factors that may be associated with walking and bicycling, including travel, socioeconomic, attitude, perception, and shopping district characteristics. Few studies of pedestrian or bicycle mode choices have included all of these categories of factors. Statistical models showed that variables in all categories had significant associations with mode choice. (2) Documented and analyzed short pedestrian movements, such as from a parking space to a store entrance or from a bus stop to home. These detailed data provided a greater understanding of pedestrian activity than traditional travel survey analyses. Walking was used as the primary mode for 65% of respondent trips between stops within shopping districts, and 52% of all respondents walked along a street or between stops at some time between leaving and returning home. Maps of respondent pedestrian path density revealed distinct pedestrian activity patterns in different types of shopping districts. (3) Used four different approaches to capture participant travel mode information. Respondents reported the primary mode of transportation they were using on the day of the survey, the mode they typically used, and all modes that they would consider using to travel to the survey store. They also mapped all stops on their tour and said what modes they used between each stop. These four approaches revealed nuanced travel habits and made it possible to correct inaccuracies in self-reported primary travel mode data. (4) Measured and tested fine-grained local environment variables in shopping districts rather than around respondents' homes. These variables characterized the shopping district area (e.g., sidewalks, bicycle facilities, metered parking, and tree canopy coverage), the main commercial roadway (e.g., posted speed limit, number of automobile lanes, and pedestrian crossing distance), and the survey store site (e.g., number of automobile and bicycle parking spaces and distance from the public sidewalk to the store entrance). This dissertation adds to the small number of studies that have explored how the characteristics of activity destinations are related to travel behavior.

The study results contribute to the body of knowledge about factors that may encourage people to shift routine travel from automobile to pedestrian or bicycle modes.

Results also suggest the magnitude of mode shifts that could occur if short- and long-term land use and transportation system changes were made to each study shopping district. The mode choice model representing travel only to and from the study shopping districts (N = 388) was used to estimate respondent mode shares under the following three scenarios: (1) double population and employment densities in each study shopping district, (2) double street tree canopy coverage in each study shopping district, and (3) eliminate half of the automobile parking spaces at the survey store.

The mode choice model of walking versus driving within survey shopping districts (N = 286) was used to test the combination of the following scenarios: (1) cluster separated stores around shared parking lots, (2) consolidate commercial driveways so that there are half as many driveway crossings along the main commercial roadway, (3) reduce all main commercial roadway speed limits to 25 miles per hour (40 kilometers per hour), and (4) install metered parking in all shopping districts.

Qualitative interviews provided a foundation for a proposed Theory of Routine Mode Choice Decisions. This five-step theory also drew from survey results and other mode choice theories in the transportation and psychology fields. The first step, (1) awareness and availability, determines which modes are viewed as possible choices for routine travel. The next three steps, (2) basic safety and security, (3) convenience and cost, and (4) enjoyment, assess situational tradeoffs between modes in the choice set and are supported by many of the statistically-significant factors in the mode choice models. The final step, (5) habit, reinforces previous choices and closes the decision process loop. Socioeconomic characteristics explain differences in how individuals view each step in the process. Understanding each step in the mode choice decision process can help planners, designers, engineers, and other policy-makers implement a comprehensive set of strategies that may be able to shift routine automobile travel to pedestrian and bicycle modes. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Cervero, Robert B.
Commitee: Cervero, Robert B., Deakin, Elizabeth A., Macdonald, Elizabeth S., Walker, Joan L.
School: University of California, Berkeley
Department: City & Regional Planning
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 72/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Sustainability, Transportation planning, Urban planning
Keywords: Bicycle, Mode choice, Pedestrian, Sustainable, Sustainable transportation, Transportation
Publication Number: 3469491
ISBN: 978-1-124-85455-7
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