Exploring Mobility Types and Car Dependency in the Los Angeles Region

Research Team: Giovanni Circella (lead), Basar Ozbilen

UC Campus(es): UC Davis

Problem Statement: Los Angeles (LA) is one of the most car-dependent regions worldwide. It has a sprawled urban form, a well-connected highway system, and a limited set of reliable alternatives to car travel. Considering the threats of Climate Change and the availability of emerging mobility technologies such as ride-hailing (also known as Transportation Network Companies, or TNCs), shared micromobility (e.g., bike-sharing, e-scooters), electric vehicles, and vehicle automation, the way people travel as well as the role of cars are likely to change in the future. As a result, there is a strong need to better understand mobility types and factors affecting car dependence in LA to set a baseline for a more sustainable future for transportation system. It is particularly important to explore how travel is organized and which role the car plays for different groups in LA because the region has a diverse representation of households with various socio-economic and demographic backgrounds, which creates significant variability in terms of transportation availability. As the world enters the post-pandemic era, this study can serve as one of the pioneer efforts to explore how the transportation landscape will evolve after COVID-19. Given these considerations, this research project aims to assess mobility types and car dependence in the region and draw from these to develop policy implications that will help reshape the transportation system in LA.

Project Description: The research team will design and administer a cross-sectional survey and analyze the data collected in multiple neighborhoods in the LA region. The online survey will be administered in winter 2023. This unique dataset will allow the in-depth analysis of respondents’ travel preferences, attitudes towards the use of cars and other travel modes, perceptions regarding the built environment and transportation infrastructure, and psychological factors that affect activity-travel behaviors. With this knowledge, the research team will be able to identify and differentiate subjective and objective dimensions of car dependence and define distinctive mobility types in the region. Researchers will develop weights to address any potential issues related to the lack of representativeness in the sample and to ensure the findings can mirror LA residents’ travel behavior and mobility preferences. This study will allow the research team to understand mobility patterns and travelers’ characteristics in the LA region and help guide policymakers in developing strategies that can address the variations in individuals’ mobility needs based on socio-spatial differences in the future.

Status: In Progress