The psychology of cycle commuting

Redman, Alan (2019) The psychology of cycle commuting. (DoBPsych thesis), Kingston University, .


The daily commute is a significant part of the working day in terms of its potential impact on people’s health, well-being, and performance. Commuting by motorised transport associated with adverse effects on congestion, air-pollution, poor public health, and environmental harm. Encouraging more people to switch to modes of commuting that minimise harm and promote benefits should be the goal of employers, communities, and governments wanting to tackle the problems associated with commuting by car, bus, or train. This research focuses on cycle commuting as both a solution for contemporary problems caused by prevailing commuting habits and a source of significant benefits for people at work, employers, and communities. A systematic literature review was conducted to establish the scope of previous research investigating the determinants of cycle commuting. The review identified studies across a range of disciplines including transport planning, facilities management, and environmental science. The studies explored physical/objective determinants of cycle commuting rates such as infrastructure, terrain, trip qualities, facilities, and incentives. Psychological determinants of people’s decision to ride to work were only included in a small minority of the studies identified by the review. The conclusions of the systematic review informed the subsequent stage of research, which specifically examined the psychological determinants of cycle commuting. The focus of the study was to understand why people adopt this mode choice while many do not, even in the context of access to the same infrastructure, facilities, terrain, and incentives. The research adopted an exploratory approach in order to establish a model of psychological determinants and their interaction with physical/objective determinants. A thematic analysis of data from research interviews with regular cycle commuters articulated three themes, which were used as a basis of a psychological model using the Theory of Planned Behaviour to describe the process by which people adopt cycle commuting as a sustained behaviour. The research contributes to our understanding of the psychological factors within commuting behaviours and provides a model which can be tested empirically as a means for encouraging behaviour change within interventions at the personal, organisational, and policy level.

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