Building Stocks of Experience: How Beliefs About How You Can, Ought, and Like To Travel Influence Youths’ Current and Future Travel Behavior

At a fundamental level, individuals require specific competencies to travel. These include skills, knowledge, attitudes, and norms, which together form the construct of travel “motility.” Though the effects of possessing these basic travel competencies on travel behavior have been studied to varying degrees in isolation, motility has not been well studied as a cohesive unit nor as an outcome of interest. This dissertation seeks to understand how individuals’ travel experiences build their motility. The researcher examines two longitudinal panels, with schoolchildren in Davis, CA and with undergraduate students attending the University of California, Davis, both focusing on bicycling motility. The dissertation finds that early bicycling behavior is associated with increased probability of possessing positive bicycling attitudes, a high level of bicycling skill, and perceptions of bicycling as a normal, acceptable mode of travel.

In the third dissertation study, the researcher investigates driving motility through a study of driver’s licensing delay. Licensure relates to motility directly and indirectly: getting a driver’s license directly increases motility, while not getting a driver’s license may indirectly lead to increases in motility for non-driving modes, since teenagers without driver’s licenses are likely to gain experiences bicycling, walking, or taking public transit. In recent decades, increasing numbers of American teenagers have chosen to delay or forego licensure; the factors that influence the decision to delay are studied through a retrospective survey of students, staff, and faculty at the University of California, Davis. The researcher finds that graduated driver’s licensing laws, walkable residential locations, and driver’s licensing attitudes (which vary by generation) are associated with the timing of driver’s licensing. Combined with the results of the other two studies, this suggests that the teenagers who choose to delay driver’s licensing may gain valuable, motility-building experiences with sustainable alternative modes of travel.


Research Area