First Advisor

Jennifer Dill

Date of Publication

Summer 8-13-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




Choice of transportation -- United States, Walking, Urban transportation -- United States



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 125 pages)


Active transportation modes of walking and bicycling have the potential to help mitigate environmental and health concerns ranging from growing greenhouse gas emissions to increasing rates of obesity. This dissertation investigates how new movers make decisions about active transportation, particularly non-work utilitarian walking, in the context of a new home and neighborhood. New movers are an important, yet often overlooked, population in travel behavior research because they provide an opportunity to observe behavior adoption in new contexts, but also because the roughly one-in-ten Americans who move each year are more likely to consider changes to daily routines, including travel behavior, making them prime targets for voluntary travel behavior change programs. Using data from a two-wave survey of recent movers in six U.S. cities, psychological and social mechanisms essential to the built environment travel behavior relationship. The research is divided into three stand-alone papers (chapters 4, 5 and 6). First, to isolate the built environment effect on active travel mode adoption, the relative influence of the built environment and a robust set of self-selection variables is quantified. Second, the psychological constructs that facilitate the built environment travel behavior relationship are identified. And in light of increasing market demand for housing in walkable urban neighborhoods and the observed importance of self-selection, the final paper quantifies the extent to which low-income households face are able to realize preferences for walkable housing locations. The key findings of this dissertation are that 1) the built environment plays a key role in determining recent mover adoption of utilitarian walking even after controlling for self-selection; 2) the influence of the built environment on post-move adoption of utilitarian walking largely mediated by perceived behavior control, as expected, and, unexpectedly, by descriptive social norms; and 3) low-income movers who prioritized moving to a walkable place were about half as likely as higher-income movers to be able to realize this preference. These findings have practical and theoretical implications which are discussed in each paper and in the final chapter.


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