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Does exposure to new transport infrastructure result in modal shifts? Patterns of change in commute mode choices in a four-year quasi-experimental cohort study.

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Heinen, Eva 
Harshfield, Amelia 
Mackett, Roger 


BACKGROUND: Intervention studies suggest that changing the built environment may encourage a modal shift from car travel towards active travel. However, little is known about the detail of patterns of changes in travel behaviour. METHOD: Adult commuters working in Cambridge (UK) completed annual questionnaires between 2009 and 2012. Commuting was assessed using a validated seven-day travel-to-work record. The intervention consisted of the opening of a guided busway with a path for walking and cycling in 2011. Exposure to the intervention was defined as the negative of the square root of the shortest road distance from home to the busway. We investigated the association between exposure to the intervention and specific modal shifts and patterns of change, along with individual mode choice patterns over the entire four-year period. RESULTS: Five groups of patterns of change were found in our in-depth explorations: (1) no change, (2) a full modal shift, (3) a partial modal shift, (4) non-stable but patterned behaviour, and (5) complicated or apparently random patterns. A minority of participants had a directed change of either a full modal shift or, more commonly, a partial modal shift, whereas a large proportion showed a highly variable pattern. No significant associations were found between exposure to the intervention and specific modal shifts or patterns of change. CONCLUSION: Our analyses revealed a large diversity in (changes in) travel behaviour patterns over time, and showed that the intervention did not result in one specific pattern of behaviour change or produce only full modal shifts. These insights are important for improving the measurement of travel behaviour, improving our understanding of how changes in travel behaviour patterns occur, and fully capturing the potential impacts of interventions.



1117 Public Health and Health Services, Population & Society, Public Health, Metabolic and Endocrine, Oral and Gastrointestinal, Stroke, Cancer

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J Transp Health

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Elsevier BV
Wellcome Trust (087636/Z/08/Z)
Economic and Social Research Council (ES/G007462/1)
Medical Research Council (MR/K023187/1)
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12015/6)
TCC (None)
NIHR Evaluation Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (09/3001/06)
The Commuting and Health in Cambridge study was developed by David Ogilvie, Simon Griffin, Andy Jones and Roger Mackett and initially funded under the auspices of the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence. Funding from the British Heart Foundation, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health Research and the Wellcome Trust, under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, is gratefully acknowledged. The study was subsequently funded by the National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research Programme (Project no. 09/3001/06). EH, AH and JP have at various times been supported by this NIHR PHR project grant, and JP was subsequently supported by an NIHR post-doctoral fellowship (PDF-2012-05-157). EH is now supported by the Dutch Research Council [VENI-grant: 016.145.073] and JP and DO are supported by the Medical Research Council [Unit Programme number MC_UU_12015/6].