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Are short daily trips compensated by higher leisure mobility?



Studies in several cities have shown that inner-city residents travel shorter distances and use cars less for local transport than suburbanites do. However, according to some authors, a low daily amount of travel is likely to be compensated through more extensive leisure mobility at weekends and on holidays. On the basis of a study of residential location and travel in the Copenhagen metropolitan area, this paper addresses the phenomenon of compensatory travel. For travel within ‘weekend trip distance’ from the residence, inner-city living appears to have a certain compensatory effect in the form of a higher frequency of medium-distance leisure trips. Probably, this reflects a shortage of nature in the immediate surroundings of the dwelling as well as less leisure time tied to gardening and house maintenance. These compensatory trips imply a slight reduction of the transport-reducing effect of inner-city living, but are far from sufficient to change the overall tendency towards less travel and reduced car dependency among inner-city residents. The frequency of flights is somewhat higher among respondents living in dense inner-city areas, but this relationship is hardly causal, as the correlations of flights with daily travel time or distance, access to local green areas, housing costs or car ownership that might be expected if the hypothesis of compensatory air travel were true, are not present.

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