Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Commuting without Polluting: The Economic Geography of Active Transport in Aotearoa New Zealand

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posted on 2023-03-14, 23:31 authored by McKim, Laura
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of car ownership in the world and as such contributes disproportionately to global climate change, cardiovascular disease and obesity. This need not be the case for, among other things, New Zealand cities have the potential to increase the use of walking and cycling. There is substantial evidence that modifying the urban form and design of neighbourhoods can influence the use of active transport. However factors such as those related to employment and income have so far received far less attention as possible influences. This thesis explores the impact of income on the use of active modes of transport for commuting. Modal choice is sensitive to both income and relative costs. While historically the car has replaced walking and cycling as wage rates have risen, in cross section the relationship between income and active commuting takes quite a different form. While higher incomes do allow people to purchase motorised transport, they also allow workers to purchase shorter commutes and to integrate active modes into more complex trip chains. As a result, the probability of active commuting rises with income. As such, raising urban density can help stem some of the negative environmental and health effects of rising affluence.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Environmental Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Environmental Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Morrison, Philip