Why is active travel more satisfying than motorized travel? Evidence from Dublin

Transp Res Part A Policy Pract. 2020 Jun;136:318-333. doi: 10.1016/j.tra.2020.04.007. Epub 2020 May 6.


Some trips are better than others, and more and more studies find that active travel (walking and cycling) is more satisfying than motorized forms of travel (using the car or public transport). Why is this the case? Using data on travel satisfaction from 4134 commutes to a large University campus in Dublin, Ireland, this paper replicates the differences in travel satisfaction between active and motorized travel. We attribute these differences in large part to the duration of the trip. Subjective trip characteristics, such as safety and convenience, also play important roles. The trip duration explains rush-hour effects as well as why people starting from less affluent and more difficult-to-reach places are less satisfied with their trips. Longer-term policy options suggested by these results include infrastructure developments and spatial development strategies. A shorter-term initiative would be to delay university schedules in the morning to avoid low travel satisfaction during the slow rush-hour period and simultaneously ease pressure on the transport network at peak times.

Keywords: Environmental transport policy; Subjective well-being; Travel satisfaction.