First Advisor

Jennifer Dill

Date of Publication

Fall 12-10-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

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


Urban Studies and Planning




Cyclists -- Oregon -- Portland -- Attitudes, Choice of transportation -- Oregon -- Portland, Perception, Urban transportation -- Oregon -- Portland



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 174 pages)


This study aims to explore the relationship between the objective (actual) environment and people's perceptions of the environment, and their relative effects on active travel behavior, particularly bicycling behavior. This is an important research gap in the current literature linking the built environment and active travel. Better understanding this relationship will help to explore the mechanism underlying the built environment- behavior relationship and identify potential interventions to promote active travel.

Relying on the data from Portland, OR, this study investigated the following four research questions: (1) How does the objectively measured environment correspond to the perceived environment? And what factors contribute to the mismatch between the objective and perceived environment? (2) What are the different effects of the perceived and objective environment on active travel behavior? (3) Do perceptions mediate the effects of the objective environment on active travel behavior? (4) Do changes in the built environment change perceptions, and in turn change travel behavior?

Through various statistical methods, this study found that there was a mismatch between perceptions and objectively measured environment, and such factors as socio-demographics, attitudes, social environment, and behavior could contribute to this mismatch. This study also found the perceived environment and objective environment had independent effects on bicycling. Further, this study found the objectively measured bicycling environment had only an indirect effect on bicycling behavior through influencing one's perceptions of the environment. Finally, this study found changes in the actual built environment may change the perceptions of the walking environment, but not the perceptions of the bicycling environment, at least in the short term.


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