Ebook: Residential self-selection and travel
Most Western national governments aim to influence individual travel patterns – at least to some degree – through the spatial planning of residential areas. Nevertheless, the extent to which the characteristics of the built environment influence travel behaviour remains the subject of debate among travel behaviour researchers. This work addresses the role of residential-self-selection, an important issue within this debate. Households may not only adjust their travel behaviour to the built environment where they live, but they may also choose a residential location that corresponds to their travel-related attitudes. The empirical analysis in this work is based on data collected through an internet survey and a GPS-based survey, both of which were conducted among homeowners in three centrally located municipalities in the Netherlands. The study showed that residential self-selection has some limited effect on the relationship between distances to activity locations and travel mode use and daily kilometres travelled. The results also indicate that the inclusion of attitudes can help to detecting residential self-selection, provided that studies comply with several preconditions, such as the inclusion of the ‘reversed’ influence of behaviour on attitudes.
The research theme of residential choice and daily travel choices is, quite literally, one that is ‘close to home’. This tangibility was one of the aspects of my PhD projects that I valued the most. Everyone has to choose a place to live and this will always affect their daily travel choices in some way or another. This meant that it was not difficult to explain my research to other people, including the participants in my fieldwork, although concepts such as residential self-selection, travel-related attitudes, GPS and GIS techniques are less easy to grasp. Although residential and travel choices are relevant for everyone, my personal life made them especially so for me during my PhD years. Just as I started my research by relocating, I will also end my time as a PhD student with a move. Having had two children in the last two years, I almost decided to buy a car very recently. But contrary to the expectations of ‘some’ people, we still prefer to live without this ‘status symbol’. Maybe if we ever live further from metro and tram services, we will (finally) change our attitudes towards car use? Another consequence of working on my PhD at this stage in life has been a severe shortage of time. I therefore am extra grateful for all the support that has been forthcoming from those around me.
First of all, I would like to thank my supervisors Professor Bert van Wee and Dr Kees Maat. When I first submitted my unsolicited application to the OTB Research Institute for the Built Environment, I could not possibly have imagined that they had written a research proposal that corresponded so closely with my interests. Kees was always willing to discuss my research with me – even when I needed to discuss my theoretical framework because I had got stuck for the umpteenth time. Our cooperation in the development of the GPS data collection method was also invaluable. The meetings with Bert were always inspirational. They made me consider alternative research directions and continue with renewed enthusiasm.
Many of my OTB colleagues have contributed a great deal to my PhD research and to the pleasure of working at OTB. In particular, I would like to thank the members of the Urban and Regional Development Section. I also thank my former roommates Henk-Jan van Mossel, Jan-Willem Smid, Paul Metzemakers and Evert Meijers for the pleasant atmosphere in our room. The expertise, opinions, humour and care of Evert, Henk-Jan, Eva Heinen and Janneke Toussaint were a great asset to me. Sylvia Jansen and the people of the OTB's GIS-t Section were very helpful in the development of my data collection methods. I owe a debt of gratitude to Wilko Quak who developed the GIS part of the GPS data collection method and was always willing to make adjustments to the system even at short notice. Student Sam de Bree assisted me very ably with logistical aspects of the fieldwork and the helpdesk.
I also owe many thanks to the three municipalities that provided a great deal of assistance when I was carrying out my fieldwork. I must particularly thank Ester Hilhorst and Ben van de Burgwal of the municipality of Amersfoort, Ronald Hartman of the municipality of Veenendaal and Sylvia de Ruiter and Geert Jan Rijpstra of the municipality of Zeewolde. I thank the students that delivered and collected the GPS devices for their flexibility and dedication, on several occasions until late into the evening. I thank Michel Benjamins of Demis BV and Mark Peerdeman of Amaryllo for their commitment and flexibility in, respectively, developing the user-interface of the fieldwork website and adjusting the GPS receivers we used. In the analytical phase of my research, Danielle Snellen and Hans Hilbers of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and several of their colleagues were very helpful, providing me with spatial data and helping me with its preparation.
Of course I could not have done without the thousands of respondents who took the time to answer my rather long questionnaire and my particular appreciation goes to the efforts of the 1,400 respondents who participated in the GPS fieldwork. The stories of those that I talked to on the phone made my research come to life for me. There were interesting and sometimes sad stories, or funny inquiries like: ‘what will you do with the GPS data that shows I was driving at over 200 km per hour?’
The support of my friends and family has been very important to me, particularly that of my mother Betsy Bohte, who was also a great help with the practical execution of the fieldwork, my father Herman Bohte and my parents-in-law Stef and Heleen Schoots. Francien Berndsen and my sister Kristel Bohte, thank you for assisting me as the ‘paranymphs’ (acolytes) at the defence of my PhD thesis. Martijn, your patience – and sometimes your impatience, your interest in my work, the extra time you put into managing our household and designing our new house – I could never have finished my PhD without all of this. Thank you so much. Zanna and Bram, with your beaming faces, you helped me to put everything in perspective.