Does lockdown stimulate active undirected travel?: Evidence from Belgium

Authors: Hannah Hook*, Ghent University, Jonas De Vos, University College London, Veronique Van Acker, Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research, Frank Witlox, Ghent University
Topics: Transportation Geography
Keywords: Travel behavior, built environment, lockdown, travel pattern, travel compensation, undirected travel
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 33
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown period undeniably impacted travel behavior. This research primarily investigates whether undirected travel (UT), or travel for the purpose of travel itself with no particular destination, was used as compensation for a reduction in directed, or destination-specific, travel during this period in Flanders, Belgium. The overwhelming majority of UT trips are undertaken with active modes, and it is hypothesized that with a decrease in commute and destination-specific leisure trips due to pandemic regulations, active UT trips will increase and this change will vary among levels of residential urbanization.
Participant (n=764) UT behavior changed during lockdown: 17.9% who did not take UT trips pre-lockdown began taking UT trips and 10.7% who normally took UT trips pre-lockdown stopped during lockdown. An overall increase in active trips and reduction in motorized trips was also seen. Binary logistic regression analyses found that those taking at least weekly active UT trips during lockdown decreased their daily car use (walk: B=-0.28, p=0.014; cycle: B=-0.394, p=0.002). Those taking weekly walks during lockdown were more likely to have regularly participated in UT trips pre-lockdown, and those with positive attitudes toward walking and cycling were more likely to participate in active travel.
Results indicate compensation for decreased car use with active UT trips during lockdown. The built environment did not have a significant effect on travel behavior, suggesting that people took active UT trips during lockdown regardless of residential urbanization.

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