Going soft: on how Subjective Variables Explain Modal Choices for Leisure Travel
Most studies on the link between the built environment and modal choice characterize and model this relationship by objectively measureable characteristics such as density and diversity. Recently, within the debate on residential self-selection, attention has also been paid to the importance of subjective influences such as the individual’s perception of the built environment and his/her residential attitudes and preferences, resulting in models that take account of both the objective and subjective characteristics of the built environment. However, self-selection might occur on other points than residential location as well. Expanding the analysis to also include both objective and subjective characteristics at other model levels (i.e., not only stage of life characteristics but also personal lifestyles; not only car availability but also travel attitudes, not only modal choice but also mode specific attitudes) is the purpose of this paper. To this end, a modal choice model for leisure trips is developed using data on personal lifestyles and attitudes, collected via an Internet survey, and estimated using a path model consisting of a set of simultaneously estimated equations between observed variables. While controlling for subjective lifestyles and attitudes, the effects of the built environment and car availability on modal choice can more correctly be determined and thus insights into self-selection mechanisms can be gained. Moreover, we compared the results of a model with and without these subjective influences. The results show that subjective characteristics at various model levels are important decisive factors of modal choices for leisure travel.