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A comparison of car driving, public transport and cycling experiences in three European cities.

Woods, Ruth; Masthoff, Judith


Judith Masthoff


Private car use in large cities causes congestion and pollution, and should be reduced. Previous research has shown that private cars are preferred over public transport, but it is not known whether that preference holds in large cities that attenuate the usual benefits of car travel. The small body of research comparing cycling with car driving has found a preference for cycling, but it is not clear what that preference is based on, nor its generalizability, particularly beyond those who already cycle frequently. The current study, which was undertaken as part of the EU-funded project, SUPERHUB (SUstainable and PERsuasive Human Users moBility in future cities), compares liking and experiences of car driving, public transport and cycling in three European cities: Barcelona, Helsinki and Milan. Cycling was liked significantly more than car driving and public transport, and was rated significantly more positively than or equivalent to cars on many attributes, including flexibility and reliability, indicating an important role for cycling in the reduction of urban car use. Public transport was rated significantly less positively than car driving for some attributes (e.g. flexibility, reliability) but more positively for others (e.g. value for money, safety), demonstrating that in large cities, the usual advantages of car driving over public transport are considerably attenuated. Almost all these findings were replicated across all three cities, suggesting that they can be generalised. Most city dwellers already use more than one mode regularly, which may support mode change campaigns. In particular, a substantial proportion of car driver commuters already enjoyed cycling on a regular basis, suggesting the potential for mode switching, via multimodality to overcome the obstacle of journey distance.


WOODS, R. and MASTHOFF, J. 2017. A comparison of car driving, public transport and cycling experiences in three European cities. Transportation research, part A: policy and practice [online], 103, pages 211-222. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 19, 2017
Online Publication Date Jun 23, 2017
Publication Date Sep 30, 2017
Deposit Date Jun 30, 2017
Publicly Available Date Dec 24, 2018
Journal Transportation research, part A: policy and practice
Print ISSN 0965-8564
Electronic ISSN 1879-2375
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 103
Pages 211-222
Keywords Cycling; Public transport; Car; Attitude; Satisfaction; City
Public URL


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