Paul van de Coevering to defend PhD thesis

On 17 June Paul van de Coevering will publicly defend his PhD thesis titled: ‘The Interplay between Land Use, Travel Behaviour and Attitudes: a Quest for Causality.’ The public defence takes place from 12.00 to 14.15 and can be viewed live via this link.


This PhD thesis revolves around the question to what extent compact city policies such as ‘transit-oriented development’ and the ’15-minute-city’ promote sustainable travel behaviour. While governments increasingly embrace these policies, academic evidence is mixed. Especially the role of travel-related attitudes is subject to debate. Do people with a preference for using sustainable travel modes choose to live in dense areas with good facilities for public transport and cycling? Or does the built environment influence people’s attitudes towards these travel modes? And what does this mean for the potential impact of compact city policies on travel behaviour?


To answer these questions, this PhD thesis applies a longitudinal design to analyse changes in travel behaviour and the role and impact of the built environment and travel-related attitudes over time. The results show that compact city policies have a direct effect on travel behaviour and support the development of positive attitudes towards sustainable transportation. By aiming for compact cities and by developing new residential developments within acceptable walking and bicycle travel time from railway stations, governments can reduce car use and encourage the use of public transport and cycling. At the same time, the impact of the built environment on travel behaviour is modest. Accompanying measures such as parking policies and promotional campaigns are needed to encourage a stronger behavioural change. In addition, the introduction of shared mobility services for cars, bicycles and e-scooters seems promising to reduce the need for individual car ownership and use. The full thesis can be accessed via this link.


This research was co-funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO).