Access to Destinations: How Close is Close Enough? Estimating Accurate Distance Decay Functions for Different Purposes and Multiple Modes

Principal Investigator:

Kevin Krizek, Former U of M Researcher, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Co-Investigator

  • Ahmed El-Geneidy , Former University Researcher, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project Summary:

Existing urban and suburban development patterns and the automobile dependence they engender are leading to increases in traffic congestion and air pollution. In response to the growing ills caused by urban sprawl, there has been an increased interest in creating more "livable" communities in which destinations are brought closer to homes and workplaces (that is, achieving travel needs through land use planning). While previous research has suggested best practices for integrated land use planning, little research has focused on examining detailed relationships between actual travel behavior and mean distance to various services. For example, how far will pedestrians travel to access different types of destinations? Is the "quarter mile assumption" that is often bantered about actually reliable? How far will bicyclists travel to ride on a bicycle-only facility? How far do people drive for their common retail needs?

To examine these questions, this research triangulated between several data sources, including the 2001 Travel Behavior Inventory (TBI) Home Interview Survey, a Hennepin County Survey of Trail Users, and a mailed survey administered in the summer of 2005. A primary outcome of this research was to examine different types of destinations and accurately and robustly estimate distance decay models for auto and non-auto travel modes, and also to comment on its applicability for different types of travel and development of accessibility measures that incorporate this information.

To examine these questions, this research makes use of available travel survey data for the Twin Cities region. A primary outcome of this research is to examine different types of destinations and accurately and robustly estimate distance decay models for auto and non-auto travel modes, and also to comment on its applicability for different types of travel and development of accessibility measures that incorporate this information.

In what is likely to be an enduring period of constrained public resources, lawmakers and government executives will seek the best information possible for making policy choices and deciding where to make public investments. In a landmark series of studies known as Access to Destinations, the Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) at the University of Minnesota has opened up new frontiers of information for better policy and investment decisions.

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