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  • Writer's pictureMashrur Rahman

Travel attitudes, the built environment and travel behavior relationships

Updated: Jun 18, 2022

Journal of Transport Policy, Volume 123, July 2022, Pages 44-54

Mashrur Rahman, Gian-Claudia Sciara

Major Highlights

  • Multiple causal pathways between the built environment (BE) and travel behavior (TB) are explained.

  • BE can trigger attitudinal changes that later manifest in new or different travel-related residential preferences.

  • BE can contribute to the formation and disruption of habitual travel behaviors.

  • Implications for transportation and land use policies and for future research are discussed.


The importance of travel attitudes and residential choice in the relationship between the built environment and travel behavior has long been debated in transportation literature. In this paper, we explore the complexity of this relationship drawing on causal insights from social-psychology theories. The paper highlights: 1) the role of attitudes in travel behavior and in residential choice; 2) the dynamics of attitude formation and change and of habit formation, and 3) the formation and expression of residential preferences. First, interactive effects between travel attitudes and the built environment suggest that one's type or degree of response to BE changes depends on the strength of their travel attitudes. Conversely, the impact of attitudes on travel can vary depending on BE context. Second, the built environment can indirectly affect travel behavior by triggering attitude changes and by inducing routine behavior or habit. Third, residential preferences can be influenced by one's prior experiences and lifestyle choices, and by the supply, availability and composition of the built environment in the wider city/region; the built environment can shape residential preferences, suggesting reverse causality. The paper presents a conceptual model that illustrates multiple causalities involved in the built environment and travel behavior relationship based on review of theories and empirical findings. Finally, the policy implications are discussed.

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