Introduction This explorative study examines personal and neighbourhood characteristics associated with short-distance trips made by car, bicycle or walking in order to identify target groups for future interventions. Methods Data were derived from ‘Mobility Research Netherlands (2004–2009; MON)’, a dataset including information regarding trips made by household members (n = ±53,000 respondents annually). Using postal codes of household addresses, MON data were enriched with data on neighbourhood typologies. Multilevel logistic modelling was used to calculate odds ratio (OR) of active transport versus car use associated with four different trip purposes (shopping (reference), commuting, taking or bringing persons or sports). A total of 277,292 short distance trips made by 102,885 persons were included in analyses. Results Compared to women shopping, women less often take active transport to sports clubs (OR = 0.88) and men less often take active transport for shopping (OR = 0.92), or for bringing or taking persons (OR = 0.76). Those aged 25–34 years (OR = 0.83) and 35–44 years (OR = 0.96) were more likely to use active transport for taking or bringing persons than persons belonging to the other age groups (relative to trips made for shopping by those 65 years or over). A higher use of active transport modes by persons with an university or college degree was found and particularly persons living in urban-centre neighbourhoods were likely to use active transport modes. Conclusion In developing policies promoting a mode shift special attention should be given to the following groups: a) men making short distance trips for taking or bringing persons, b) women making short distance trips to sport facilities, c) persons belonging to the age groups of 25–44 years of age, d) Persons with a primary school or lower general secondary education degree and persons with a high school or secondary school degree and e) persons living in rural or urban-green neighbourhoods.