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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The impact of residential neighborhood type on travel behavior: A structural equations modeling approach


Using a system of structural equations, this paper empirically examines the relationship of residential neighborhood type to travel behavior, incorporating attitudinal, lifestyle, and demographic variables. Data on these variables were collected from residents of five neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1993 (final N = 515), including "traditional" and "suburban" as well as mixtures of those two extremes. A conceptual model of the interrelationships among the key variables of interest was operationalized with a nine-equation structural model system. The nine endogenous variables included two measures of residential location type, three measures of travel demand, three attitudinal measures, and one measure of job location.

In terms of both direct and total effects, attitudinal and lifestyle variables had the greatest impact on travel demand among all the explanatory variables. By contrast, residential location type had little impact on travel behavior. This is perhaps the strongest evidence to date supporting the speculation that the association commonly observed between land use configuration and travel patterns is not one of direct causality, but due primarily to correlations of each of those variables with others. In particular, the results suggest that when attitudinal, lifestyle, and sociodemographic variables are accounted for, neighborhood type has little influence on travel behavior.

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