ISSN: 2717-4417

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Professor of Urban Planning, Urban Planning Faculty, University of Tehran

2 Ph.D. in Urban Planning, School of Urban Planning, College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran



The analysis of the casual relationship between built environments and travel behavior has been a key issue in the literature on transportation and planning. Residential self-selection is an issue that requires greater elaboration in investigations of built environments and travel behavior. It suggests that people choose their neighborhoods according to their travel attitudes and preferences. In other words, people who prefer to walk more decide to reside in walkable neighborhoods. Therefore, people walk more because they like to walk. Hence, residential self-selection, which refers to people’s propensity to choose where to live, is based on their travel attitudes. It is therefore essential to explore the impacts of built environments on travel behavior given the roles of travel attitudes, neighborhood preferences, and socio-demographic characteristics in explanation of the relationship. In this paper, structural equation modeling was applied to specify the extent to which the observed patterns of travel behavior could be attributed to the residential built environment, through investigation of the relationship between the built environment and the frequency of non-work travel involving walks in three neighborhoods with different land development patterns in Tehran, Iran. With an identification of the direct and indirect impacts of the factors effective on travel behavior, the following hypotheses were made. 1) If a built-environment element affects travel behavior or another factor directly or indirectly, it has a causal relationship with travel behavior. 2) If the travel attitudes or neighborhood preferences affect the built environment, self-selection could be understood as confounding the casual relationship between the built environment and travel behavior. For testing the above hypotheses, data were collected from 273 questionnaires distributed in three neighborhoods: Moniriye (as a traditional neighborhood), Golestan (as an automobile-oriented neighborhood), and Bime (as a conventional neighborhood). Using exploratory factor analysis, the aspects of built environments were extracted as follows: residential environment characteristics, highway accessibility, public transport accessibility, destination diversity and accessibility, density, and residence preferences. The latter refers to residents’ accessibility preferences/priorities if they wish to move to a new neighborhood. Moreover, the factors effective on travel attitudes, as elicited by exploratory factor analysis, were found to include favoring means of transport other than private cars, dependent on private cars, reducing travel, and favoring private cars. After the specification of the domains of built environment, accessibility preferences/priorities, and travel attitudes, structural equation modeling was applied to identify the relative and casual relationships between the built environment and travel behavior in the three neighborhoods. The evidence from the car-oriented and conventional neighborhoods indicated the causality of the relationship between the built environment and travel behavior. In the traditional neighborhood, however, travel attitudes and neighborhood preferences were found to influence travel behavior directly and indirectly. Nevertheless, the overall comparative assessment of the direct/indirect impacts on travel behavior in the three examined neighborhoods demonstrated that the built environment elements had casual effects on the travel behavior involving walks. For instance, destination diversity and accessibility had direct and indirect impacts on travel behavior in all the three neighborhoods. It could be concluded that enhancement of diversity and public transport accessibility and reduction of highway accessibility played more prominent roles in non-motorized travel behavior. If cities adopt land use policies offering more options to utilize non-motorized means of transport, therefore, many residents would tend to welcome the idea.


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