January 21, 2011

Contributions of the Physical and Social Environment to Bicycling: A Structural Equation Modeling Study

Time

1:30 - 2:00 p.m

Location

1065 Kemper Hall, UC Davis

Speaker(s)

Yan Xing;Joel Bremson, Graduate Student Researcher, UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies; Graduate Student Researcher, UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies

Abstract

The level of bicycling is low in the United States compared to some European countries with similar living standards and auto ownership. Differences in the physical and social environments in these countries help to explain much higher levels of bicycling in Europe than in the U.S. Previous bicycling research has established a potential association between environmental factors and bicycling. However, empirical evidence of whether the physical and social environment have true impacts on individual bicycling, as well as what their relative importance is, is still limited. Using data from an online survey conducted in 2006 in six small cities in the western United States, this study aims to address these questions by employing structural equations modeling, which accounts for endogeneities between variables and is thereby more robust than single equation models. The empirical findings show that individual attitudes, especially the attitude of liking bicycling, have the greatest impact on bicycling behavior. The social environment emerges as the second most important factor. Physical environment variables also influence bicycling after accounting for residential self-selection. This study provides a stronger empirical basis for policy decisions promoting bicycling by contributing to an improved understanding of the influences of physical and social environments on bicycling.

“Autopia: A Serious Game for Studying Fuel and Vehicle Markets”

Fuel and vehicle markets are subject to many uncertainties over the next 40 years. Resource, environmental and geopolitical factors will all play important roles in the outcome. Autopia is a serious game in which consumers, vehicle producers and fuel producers interact under a long range scenario based on models developed from literature and industry sources. Serious games are tools used to study dynamic systems that are otherwise unapproachable using conventional methods.
The purpose of Autopia is to gain a better understanding of potential market dynamics and their policy implications.

Biographical Sketch

Yan Xing is a Ph.D. candidate in the Transportation Technology and Policy program at ITS-Davis. She previously earned a Master’s in Public Administration at Tsinghua University, Beijing, P. R. China. She is now working with Professor Susan L. Handy. Her primary research interest focuses on travel behavior study, particularly, bicycling behavior study, as well as the impacts of environmental factors on bicycling. Her current research includes a series of studies on bicycling including bicycle ownership, use, and purposes.

Yan Xing is a Ph.D. candidate in the Transportation Technology and Policy program at ITS-Davis. She previously earned a Master’s in Public Administration at Tsinghua University, Beijing, P. R. China. She is now working with Professor Susan L. Handy. Her primary research interest focuses on travel behavior study, particularly, bicycling behavior study, as well as the impacts of environmental factors on bicycling. Her current research includes a series of studies on bicycling including bicycle ownership, use, and purposes.

Joel Bremson is a Ph.D. candidate in Transportation Technology and Policy with an undergraduate degree in History. Prior to attending graduate school he worked as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. His long distance commute to work kindled his fascination with the challenges of transportation. His dissertation research, a serious game about long-range vehicle and fuel transitions called Autopia, combines his interests in transportation, social science, and computer modeling, seeking to better understand the processes that determine this complex system.
In his spare time he is a performing musician, playing upright bass and guitar in several bands, spanning genres including folk, rock, and improvised jazz. He is also the host of the Transportation conference on The Well, a pioneering online community.