, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 1081–1101 | Cite as

The multimodal majority? Driving, walking, cycling, and public transportation use among American adults

  • Ralph Buehler
  • Andrea Hamre


Multimodality, the use of more than one mode of transportation during a specified time period, is gaining recognition as an important mechanism for reducing automobile dependence by shifting trips from automobiles to walking, cycling, or public transportation. Most prior research on multimodality focuses on Western European countries. Based on the 2001 and 2009 National Household Travel Surveys, this paper analyzes trends and determinants of multimodal car use in the U.S. during a typical week by distinguishing between (1) monomodal car users who drive or ride in a car for all trips, (2) multimodal car users who drive or ride in a car and also use non-automobile modes, and (3) individuals who exclusively walk, cycle, and/or ride public transportation. We find that during a typical week a majority—almost two thirds—of Americans use a car and make at least one trip by foot, bicycle, or public transportation. One in four Americans uses a car and makes at least seven weekly trips by other modes of transportation. Results from multinomial and logistic regression analyses suggest there may be a continuum of mobility types ranging from monomodal car users to walk, bicycle, and/or public transportation only users—with multimodal car users positioned in-between the two extremes. Policy changes aimed at curtailing car use may result in movements along this spectrum with increasing multimodality for car users.


Multimodality USA Trends 2001–2009 Multimodal and monomodal car users Walk, bicycle, and public transportation only users Individual travel behavior 



This paper is based on a 2-year research project funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation: “Multimodal Individual Travel in the United States.” It is part of the Research Initiatives Program of the Mid-Atlantic University Transportation Center (MAUTC).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Urban Affairs and Planning Program, School of Public and International AffairsVirginia TechAlexandriaUSA

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