Publication Detail

The Reciprocal Influence of Bicycling Attitudes, Skills, and Behavior



Available online at:

Suggested Citation:
Thigpen, Calvin, Maarten Kroesen, Susan L. Handy (2019) The Reciprocal Influence of Bicycling Attitudes, Skills, and Behavior. Transportation Research Board 98th Annual Meeting

Attitude-behavior studies in the field of travel behavior have traditionally considered attitude as a determinant of behavior without analyzing the reciprocal relationship. This omission has foundational implications for both theory testing and refinement, as well as consequences for attempts to derive policy from research findings. In this study, the authors examine the reciprocal relationships between bicycling behavior and attitudes, adding a third variable, skill, to the mix. They seek to compare the relative strength of the reciprocal relationships among these three variables and provide policy suggestions based on the results. The authors assembled a longitudinal panel of undergraduate students from the University of California, Davis by connecting their responses across multiple years of an annual campus travel survey. Using a cross-lagged panel model, they find strong, statistically significant stability relationships for all three dependent variables. Even so, bicycle use has a moderate, positive influence on skill in the subsequent year, and bicycling attitudes have a moderate, positive relationship with behavior in the following year. This research suggests that context and life stage may have moderating effects on the reciprocal relationships; while previous studies have found that behavior influences attitudes in the general population, for the undergraduate students in the authors' sample bicycling behavior has limited to no influence on behavior attitudes. Their results suggest that bicycling in college helps to improve bicycling skills, which may have enduring impacts. This study supports the notion that educational institutions can play an important role in preparing students for active travel later in life.

Key words: Attitudes, behavior, bicycling, college students, cyclists, travel behavior, travel surveys