The indirect effect of the built environment on travel mode choice: A focus on recent movers

Jonas De Vos, Long Cheng, Md Kamruzzaman, Frank Witlox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Many studies have demonstrated that the built environment has a strong impact on people's travel mode choice. However, the built environment also influences elements such as travel distance and car ownership, which might be the true predictors of which travel modes are chosen. In this study, we analyse the effects of changes in residential neighbourhood on changes in travel mode (for commute trips and leisure trips), both directly and indirectly through changes in car ownership, travel distances and travel attitudes. This study applies a structural equation modelling approach using quasi-longitudinal data from 1650 recently relocated residents in the city of Ghent, Belgium. Results indicate that the built environment has strong direct effects on active leisure trips and car use. However, distance (for car use) and attitudes (for active travel) were found to be important mediating variables. In sum, the effect of the built environment on travel mode choice might be more complex than commonly assumed as it partly seems mediated by travel distance and travel attitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102983
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Built environment
  • Car ownership
  • Residential location
  • Travel attitudes
  • Travel behaviour
  • Travel distance

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