Examining Consumer Behavior and Travel Choices

Source: Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium

As cities around the country are making significant investments in pedestrian, bicycling and transit infrastructure, cycling, especially is on the rise. Many other cities, large and small, are eyeing this success and are recognizing the potential of cycling as a viable mode of transportation for their communities

These investments are often met with resistance from the business community because of uncertainty about the benefits and how they might accrue to them. This skepticism is based largely upon the perceptions that investments and policies that encourage cycling, walking and transit may inhibit automobile use and thus, interfere with a business model that depends largely upon an automobile-oriented customer base. There is little evidence from rigorous, objective studies to prove that these fears are unfounded.

Given the extent and maturity of Portland's existing bicycling, transit and pedestrian infrastructure and the ambitious level of anticipated future investments here and elsewhere in the U.S., the timing is right to investigate the relative economic benefits of different modes in more depth. To fill this gap, this study examines the links between consumer behavior and the mode of transportation used to access local destinations, with the greater goal of providing the empirical evidence needed to inform decision making and educate the public. We limit our scope to the examination of the relationships between consumer expenditures and their trip making behavior, including mode of travel and frequency of trips in the Portland metropolitan area.

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