New location, new mobility? The interaction between daily mobility and residential relocation in Berlin's Rummelsburger Bucht
Raalten, R. van
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A residential relocation can lead to a variety of changes in someone’s life such as a new house, a new school, a new living environment and new neighbours. The question is however: can a residential relocation also result in a change in daily mobility? This research focuses on the possible change in daily mobility by looking at the mutual interactions between daily and residential mobility. Thereby the questions addressed are: Which role does daily mobility play in the decision for a residential relocation; and to what extent does this residential relocation lead to a change in daily mobility? This question is answered by an analysis of the available literature and a quantitative empirical research in the Rummelsburger Bucht area in Berlin. This newly built residential inner city area was expected to be associated from an environmental point of view of more sustainable mobility patterns. This research hopes to contribute to this association by showing if a neighbourhood like the Rummelsburger can indeed lead to more sustainable mobility patterns and then perhaps the construction of such areas can become attractive from a mobility perspective. As a framework for the mobility component, the emphasis has been on a theoretical analysis of approaches to daily mobility, habitual mobility and on a life-course perspective on residential mobility. The relations between urban form, mobility and other determinants of mobility have also been examined and the case-study area of the Rummelsburger Bucht has been put into a wider context of inner city projects and also within its city, Berlin. The findings of the research indicate that mobility does not play a role in the decision to relocate. On the other hand, mobility aspects did play a role in the relocating process as it affected the location decision. Still, the influence that mobility had in the location decision was on most aspects found to be lower than aspects of the built environment and accessibility. Although correlations were found between the preference to relocate to an area that facilitated the travel needs and the actual transport mode usage, these ‘residential self-selection effects’ on mobility are expected to be low as they seem to be only limitedly supported by the motives for relocation. The location motives indicated that aspects that are normally associated with a residential location more outside of the city centre (e.g. an own garden, a quiet area and the availability of green spaces and terraced-housing) were important motives to move to the Rummelsburger Bucht. Together with the finding that most households previously lived in (central) Berlin, this means that the area can offer opportunities for people in Berlin who otherwise might have left the city to satisfy their preferences and at the same can attract people from outside the central areas to Berlin’s centre. Areas like the Rummelsburger Bucht can therefore contribute to the re-urbanisation process of the city. This is particularly of importance in the case of Berlin, as the city is struggling with financial problems and needs to attract and retain wealthy residents and businesses. Whereas only a minor role for daily mobility on residential mobility was found, more effects were found for residential mobility on daily mobility. The descriptive analysis showed that the households in the Rummelsburger Bucht had characteristics and mobility tools that are associated with higher travel distances and car-use. A comparison on city-level however showed hardly any differences in transport mode choice. Overall, no major changes in travel times and travel distances to various destinations were found between previous and the current location, but a closer look showed that there was an increase in travel time and travel distance for daily shopping trips (a consequence of a lack of shops in the area) and a decrease to green spaces, bus/tram stops and regional train-/bus stations. Changes in mobility were also found for the usage of transport modes for commuting-, shopping- and leisure trips. Generally, a relocation to the Rummelsburger Bucht led to an increase in cycling for all three trip purposes and to an increase in walking for leisure trips. This means that it seems that independent of (low) self-selection effects and socio-demographic characteristics a change in the urban form can lead to changes in mobility. Differences in a change in transport mode usage were also found between people that previously lived in central Berlin and in other areas, as the latter group showed an increase in the use of fast local public transport and a decline in car-use for all trips whereas no changes were found for the first group. Furthermore a habit for car-use was found and car-use also decreased for some groups. Although these findings suggest a car-habit breaking effect, no certainty about the relation can be given due to the research method used. Despite the minor role that daily mobility played in the relocation process, changes in daily mobility occurred after relocation. The results indicate that it makes sense to develop newly built inner city areas like the Rummelsburger Bucht in light of more sustainable mobility patterns and confirm that urban form can have an effect on mobility. It should however be kept in mind that these mobility patterns are dependent on the transport opportunities that are available in the area and that the findings of this research do not automatically apply to other spatial contexts. Moreover, because of the small data set used it is advised to be cautious in generalizing the findings of this research. Further research is recommended to look at the effects for mobility between different projects within the same and between different spatial contexts and to concentrate on daily mobility before and after relocation by using a longitudinal design and travel diaries. Another interesting addition can be to include other forms of mobility such as virtual mobility and to focus on qualitative methods that can also pay attention to the role of attitudes towards mobility.