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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Voyage of the S.S. Minivan: Women’s Travel Behavior in Traditional and Suburban Neighborhoods


There are numerous studies examining the interactions between travel behavior and neighborhood design. However, little thought is given specifically to gender differences. While sex is considered in most multivariate statistical analyses as a possible independent variable, there are few studies that focus primarily on “gendered” travel behavior, as influenced by neighborhood design. There are even fewer studies that examine the differences in travel behavior among women by neighborhood type. Naturally, women are not a homogenous group, and are characterized by a variety of preferences, needs, perceptions, and behaviors.

This study is based on a survey that collected considerable data on land use as well as travel behavior, including a wealth of information on both preferences for and perceptions of neighborhood characteristics. The main questions this study addresses are: Are there gender differences in travel behavior? If so, what are the causes and the effects? Are there differences among women by neighborhood type, life cycle stage, presence of children, etc? The findings point to some significant differences for and among women, particularly with respect to both the social and infrastructure aspects of safety, but also by neighborhood type (suburban versus traditional) and the presence of children.

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