ACCESS 51 Bike & Pedestrian Planning Blog Spring 2017 Travel Behavior

Is Travel Really That Bad? – ACCESS Magazine

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Okay, the title of this article is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but journey does involve considerable prices. The typical family spends about $8,500 per yr on transportation, making it certainly one of our largest expenditures. Time is one other value of journey, because the roughly hour and ten minutes American adults spend traveling each day is perhaps higher spent on things like work, household, and even sleep. Travel can be tiring, aggravating, dangerous, and more.

So why can we travel so much? Transportation teachers have made the apparent assumption that we journey to succeed in locations. They view travel as a “derived demand;” we don’t do it for the love of journey itself, but because of the advantages we reap at our destinations. Thus, it’s commonly assumed that people reduce their travel, so long as they get to the places they need to go.

However is traveling actually so dangerous? Some researchers have concluded that travel may need benefits excluding the apparent one among getting you to locations. A minimum of in some methods, travel could be fun. Travel can involve journey and novelty; it may give your life a refreshing breath of air. Travel might give us a satisfying sense of autonomy and the pleasurable feeling of mastering our environment, and may even promote emotions of social standing. Working a car can make us really feel like we are in control and engaging in a challenging process. It can be a thrill to maneuver at high speeds. Wanting on the passing surroundings could be aesthetically gratifying. Many people report that travel is a valued “down time” when they’re free from the stresses of work, faculty, and household life. We will additionally multitask and do satisfying issues once we journey, like listening to music and speaking on the telephone.

Many people report that journey is a valued “down time” when they’re free from the stresses of labor, faculty, and household life.

And there are numerous types of journey that folks dedicate plenty of money and time to do purely for fun — from snowboarding to driving curler coasters to crusing, climbing, and biking. Certainly touring to the grocery store isn’t as fun as kayaking down rapids, however perhaps there are at the least some elements of recreational travel that we additionally expertise during more mundane, day-to-day trips.

Surveys affirm that travel won’t be all dangerous. Thirty-two % of respondents in a single survey reported they take pleasure in journey (Ory and Mokhtarian), with only 13 % saying they dislike it (the remaining have been neutral). Almost 70 % disagreed with the statement that “the only good thing about traveling is arriving at your destination.” Only 20 % disagreed with the statement that “getting there is half the fun.”

The identical survey found that trip function issues. Trips to pleasant locations similar to leisure, social actions, and recreation appear extra pleasant than trips to mundane locations like work or faculty.

Mode of Travel

The mode of journey can also be essential. Two-thirds of respondents stated they take pleasure in biking and strolling, and most of the people stated they wished they traveled more by these modes. Auto travel can also be usually well-regarded, with 58 % liking it and fewer than 12 % disliking it. Transit, nevertheless, fared less nicely. Solely 31 % stated they favored practice/subway/mild rail journey, with an virtually equal number saying they dislike it. And only 8 % expressed a constructive opinion about taking the bus, with a whopping 63 % responding negatively. Granted, this easy survey knowledge doesn’t take personal traits under consideration or involve any math, but easy descriptive statistics can tell us rather a lot, notably with outcomes as hanging as these.

To discover this further, Erick Guerra of the University of Pennsylvania and I examined individuals’s moods while they journey. We used knowledge from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), which research what actions individuals do in a day, how lengthy they do them for, whom they do them with, and where they do them. Travel is one such exercise, which is additional damaged down by mode and journey objective. Moreover, in 2011 the ATUS chosen three activities per individual and requested respondents concerning the depth with which they felt certain emotions during them. The feelings the survey asked about have been happiness, unhappiness, stress, fatigue, ache, and whether or not they found the exercise significant.

We examined these emotions individually, and in addition used two totally different methods to construct a composite “mood” variable to mirror individuals’s general state of mind. We had more than 13,000 individuals in our pattern who reported on over 39,000 activities. The sample is consultant of your complete US adult inhabitants.

We used two totally different modeling methods. One was peculiar least squares (OLS) regression. Broadly, this tells us if travelers as a gaggle are in a very good mood in comparison with those doing other activities, while holding primary demographic traits fixed. The other method was fixed-effects panel regression. This takes benefit of the fact that we have now three observations per particular person, so for every one that traveled we will see how they have been feeling while they have been touring in contrast with how they have been feeling whereas doing two other issues. That is very useful because some individuals are typically in better moods generally than others, and a fixed-effects panel allowed us to regulate for innate mood in addition to other individual traits.

The results indicated that the activities individuals do, like traveling, influence their mood to a perhaps-surprisingly small extent. Our OLS models, which include all the demographic variables sometimes found in social science models (like gender, age, race and revenue), in addition to activity sort, solely explain about 14 % of respondents’ moods. Other elements, like individuals’s primary tendency to really feel a certain method, or things that would have affected them throughout their day, defined far more.

That stated, we find that travel shouldn’t be associated with full distress. Actually, in line with our results, it is a roughly “medium-mood” exercise. Travel is associated with a less-positive mood than socializing, volunteering, eating and consuming, or collaborating in spiritual activities. However it is associated with more happiness than “poor-mood” actions similar to work or family chores. So, there have to be some benefits of travel that offset its admitted prices.

Our OLS model exhibits that vacationers are in a somewhat better mood than individuals who aren’t traveling, but the panel mannequin exhibits that individuals are in about the identical temper when they’re touring as when they’re collaborating in other activities. This means that intrinsically happier individuals are more more likely to journey than others.

The fact that journey must, no less than in some ways, be enjoyable has some fascinating implications. Maybe attending to a vacation spot just isn’t the only cause we undertake many trips. It might be that journey is motivated, at the least partially, by a want to travel for travel’s own sake. In some instances it might be attainable that the out-of-home exercise is motivated by the will to journey slightly than vice versa. Haven’t you discovered yourself on some Saturday nights deciding you needed to go someplace, and then determining the place that someplace can be?


The happiest mode of travel appears to be bicycling. Even after excluding those that bike purely for leisure functions, bicyclists are in a significantly more constructive mood than other vacationers akin to bus riders or walkers. Provided that biking is healthy, eco-friendly, inexpensive, and pleasant, it is sensible to think about measures like bike lanes to encourage bike driving.

Even after excluding those that bike purely for leisure functions, bicyclists are in a significantly more constructive mood than other travelers reminiscent of bus riders or walkers. Provided that biking is healthy, eco-friendly, inexpensive, and gratifying, it is sensible to think about measures like bike lanes to encourage bike driving.


Walkers, nevertheless, usually are not in a particularly good mood. (Once more, we excluded individuals who stroll for recreation or exercise.) We suspect our finding masks the truth that there are numerous varieties of strolling journeys, some more pleasant than others. For many who lack entry to an vehicle and walk from necessity, long distances, inclement climate, heavy burdens, or unsafe neighborhoods may make walking journeys an unhappy experience. Those that do have decisions, and walk only once they choose it to other modes, might take pleasure in it extra.


Broadly talking, our findings recommend that transit isn’t a particularly comfortable travel mode. Practice/subway/mild rail travel fared probably the most poorly in our OLS models, and bus journey was associated with the worst mood in our panel regression. Why is that this the case? Prior students and commonsense recommend two major sets of causes.

First is the sensation that transit travel includes surrendering control. Not only is the rider on the mercy of the transit schedule, but the car’s route may additionally be oblique and circuitous, and the stops won’t be close to the traveler’s destination. Furthermore, the traveler has no management over whether or not the car is on time or whether or not a seat will probably be obtainable. Transit vacationers need to cede some control over their private area, and should not notably just like the individuals sitting or standing near them.

The other main set of reasons could be grouped as “discomfort.” Along with typically having to face on a crowded car, transit travelers is perhaps uncovered to dangerous climate walking to or waiting at stops. The climate management in the car won’t be satisfactory, or different passengers’ cellular phone conversations could be a nuisance. Discomfort could also be psychological as nicely. Transit vacationers is perhaps harassed about when their car may arrive and whether or not they’ll get to their vacation spot on time. Also, they could feel stigma and shame about taking modes which are usually related to lower social standing than touring by personal automotive.

All of this doesn’t essentially imply we should always surrender on transit, which, in the fitting places and at the right occasions, has the potential to scale back auto congestion, assist the setting, and permit the dense concentrations of folks that make cities thrive. But these findings do assist explain why few People select to experience transit, and recommend that we might have to undertake new strategies to draw extra riders.

Sometimes, we take into consideration enhancing transit by adding service, building new infrastructure, growing car frequencies, and growing travel speeds to make service extra convenient and aggressive with automobiles. Unquestionably, these are key pieces of the puzzle. However we additionally have to give attention to what makes transit journey, no less than for many individuals, not enjoyable.

We also have to give attention to what makes transit journey, at the very least for many people, not fun.

There are cost-effective measures that can handle transit’s psychological burdens. Examples embrace electronic signage indicating arrival occasions, or cellular purposes that present where the automobiles are and when they’ll arrive. Typically, these aids won’t change journey plans, or get individuals to locations any quicker, however a minimum of they’ll scale back the stress and uncertainty of waiting for a car.


Finally, we find that auto journey is associated with being in a relatively good mood; the American “love affair” with the automotive seems to be going robust. One noteworthy finding is that, once we control for the fact that automotive passengers are more likely to be interacting with another individual and that such interactions are quite pleasant, automotive drivers and passengers are in roughly comparable moods. This means that driving won’t be the chore it’s generally assumed to be, and other people won’t be as comfortable to undertake autonomous automobiles as many fanatics consider.

Period and Life Satisfaction

In different analysis, Eric Guerra and I examined the association between journey period and mode. We reached the conclusion that longer journeys are related to a significantly worse temper than shorter trips, which could appear self-evident to anyone who has ever been caught in visitors or taken an extended street journey with antsy youngsters within the again seat shouting “Are we there yet!?” Heightened fatigue, ache, and stress account for this drop in mood. These findings suggest that efforts to struggle congestion might have emotional deserves. One other implication is that changing land uses to move origins and destinations nearer collectively may need emotional benefits. Some, nevertheless, argue that such methods may truly improve journey occasions, as a result of although distances could also be shorter, larger densities may focus visitors and produce more congestion.

In different research I have seemed for associations between time spent traveling and life satisfaction. On the day of the research, those that traveled more reported being considerably extra glad with their lives, if only modestly so. This holds true even when individuals spent the same period of time at their destinations. This implies if two individuals spend the identical amount of time at destinations outdoors their houses, the one who spends extra time getting to that destination is predicted to be somewhat happier. Given my finding that longer journeys are related to worse mood, that is considerably counterintuitive. Perhaps spending extra time traveling pays off because, although long journeys aren’t pleasurable, they get us to raised actions.

Mode selection can also be associated with life satisfaction. Bicycling is again the mode most strongly related to happiness; every minute of biking is associated with 13 occasions more further life satisfaction in comparison with the quantity of further life satisfaction associated with each minute spent in a automotive. In addition, time spent walking is strongly related to life satisfaction. Apparently, travel time is more strongly associated with life satisfaction in small cities moderately than in very giant cities, maybe because the latter usually tend to function heavy visitors congestion and/or higher distances between activity websites.


The issue is that I can solely show associations between life satisfaction and travel; displaying causation is much more complicated. The hyperlink between travel and happiness virtually definitely comes in part as a result of travel allows us to succeed in destinations — life can’t probably be good if a scarcity of transportation prevents us from working or attending to the grocery retailer. But the hyperlink may additionally come as a result of journey itself is enjoyable, or as a result of people who are happier in the first place could also be extra more likely to journey. My analysis suggests that each one three of these explanations are true; future research ought to concentrate on untangling just how robust every of these effects could be.

It’s straightforward to get depressed about transportation given all of its social prices: congestion, pollution, crash injuries, and more. However we frequently overlook about travel’s personal advantages. It’s exhausting to elucidate why individuals are spending so much time and money on something if it’s not doing them a whole lot of good. No, travel isn’t so dangerous — though that’s no cause we should always cease making an attempt to make it better.

No, journey isn’t so dangerous — though that’s no cause we should always stop making an attempt to make it higher.

References and Additional Studying

Eric A. Morris. 2015. “Ought to We All Just Keep House? Travel, Out-of-home Activities, and Life Satisfaction. Transportation Analysis Part A: Policy and Follow, 78: 519-536.

Eric A. Morris and Erick Guerra. 2015. “Are We There Yet? Journey Period and Temper Throughout Travel. Transportation Analysis Part F: Visitors Psychology and Conduct, 33: 38-47.

Eric A. Morris and Erick Guerra. 2015. “Temper and Mode: Does How We Travel Affect How We Feel? Transportation, 42(1): 25-43.

Eric A. Morris

Eric A. Morris is Affiliate Professor of Metropolis and Regional Planning at Clemson University.