Variability in baseline travel behaviour as a predictor of changes in commuting by active travel, car and public transport: A natural experimental study

Eva Heinen, David Ogilvie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: To strengthen our understanding of the impact of baseline variability in mode choice on the likelihood of travel behaviour change. Methods: Quasi-experimental analyses in a cohort study of 450 commuters exposed to a new guided busway with a path for walking and cycling in Cambridge, UK. Exposure to the intervention was defined using the shortest network distance from each participant's home to the busway. Variability in commuter travel behaviour at baseline was defined using the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index, the number of different modes of transport used over a week, and the proportion of trips made by the main (combination of) mode(s). The outcomes were changes in the share of commute trips (i) involving any active travel, (ii) involving any public transport, and (iii) made entirely by car. Variability and change data were derived from a self-reported seven-day record collected before (2009) and after (2012) the intervention. Separate multinomial regression models were estimated to assess the influence of baseline variability on behaviour change, both independently and as an interaction effect with exposure to the intervention. Results: All three measures of variability predicted changes in mode share in most models. The effect size for the intervention was slightly strengthened after including variability. Commuters with higher baseline variability were more likely to increase their active mode share (e.g. for HHI: relative risk ratio [RRR] for interaction 3.34, 95% CI 1.41, 7.89) and decrease their car mode share in response to the intervention (e.g. for HHI: RRR 7.50, 95% CI 2.52, 22.34). Conclusions: People reporting a higher level of variability in mode choice were more likely to change their travel behaviour following an intervention. Future research should consider such variability as a potential predictor and effect modifier of travel and physical activity behaviour change, and its significance for the design and targeting of interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-85
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Transport and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Active travel
  • Behaviour change
  • Car use
  • Longitudinal
  • Mode choice variability
  • Public transport

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