Despite a large body of research suggesting that the built environment influences individual travel behavior, uncertainty remains about the true nature, size, and strength of any causal relationships between the built environment and travel behavior. Residential self-selection, the phenomenon whereby individuals or households select a residential area based on their transport attitudes, is a frequently proposed alternative explanation for the reported associations. To resolve the issue of residential self-selection, longitudinal studies are often recommended. In this paper, we argue that intervention study designs are insufficient to fully resolve the problem and that intervention studies on the built environment and travel behavior may still be biased by residential selfselection. The aim of this paper is to extend existing conceptualizations of the relationships between the built environment, travel behavior, and attitudes and to provide suggestions for how a causal relationship between the built environment and travel behavior may be ascertained with more accurate estimates of effect sizes. We discuss the complexities of determining causal effects in intervention studies with participants who relocate, and the biases that may occur. We illustrate the complexities by presenting extended conceptualizations. Based on these conceptualizations, we provide considerations for future research. We suggest repeating analyses with and without individuals who relocated during the study, and with and without statistical controls for residential relocation. Additional quantitative and qualitative analyses will be necessary to obtain more accurate effect size estimates and a better understanding of the causal relationships. JP and DO were supported by the Medical Research Council [Unit Program number MC_UP_12015/6]. The Commuting and Health in Cambridge study was developed by David Ogilvie, Simon Griffin, Andy Jones and Roger Mackett and initially funded under the auspices of the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence. Funding from the British Heart Foundation, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health Research and the Wellcome Trust, under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, is gratefully acknowledged. The study was subsequently funded by the National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research program.
Document type: Article
The different versions of the original document can be found in:
DOIS: 10.17863/cam.38674 10.5198/jtlu.2018.1165
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