Causal effects of built environment characteristics on travel behaviour

A longitudinal approach

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The influence of the built environment on travel behaviour and the role of intervening variables such as socio-demographics and travel-related attitudes have long been debated in the literature. To date, most empirical studies have applied cross-sectional designs to investigate their bidirectional relationships. However, these designs provide limited evidence for causality. This study represents one of the first attempts to employ a longitudinal design on these relationships. We applied cross lagged panel structural equation models to a two-wave longitudinal dataset to assess the directions and strengths of the relationships between the built environment, travel behaviour and travel-related attitudes. Results show that the residential built environment has a small but significant influence on car use and travel attitudes. In addition, the built environment influenced travel-related attitudes indicating that people tend to adjust their attitudes to their built environment. This provides some support for land use policies that aim to influence travel behaviour.