Reducing Travel By Design: Urban Form and the Commute to Work

Reducing Travel By Design: Urban Form and the Commute to Work


R Hickman, Halcrow Group Ltd; D Banister, Bartlett School of Planning, UK



The much-heralded consensus over the renaissance and resurgence of cities in advanced societies belies real tensions as to the key characteristics of optimum urban form. There are many unanswered questions about how such a renewal is to be achieved in practice.

This paper examines the scope for using land use planning and design in reducing travel by the private car. The key questions underlying the analysis are as follows:

*To what extent does the built environment affect how often and how far people drive the car, use the bus or train, or walk or cycle? How do socio-economic circumstances affect travel behaviour; and how do they interrelate with land use factors?
*Does the land use and transport interaction relationship change by location and over time? Do individuals modify their travel behaviour over time? Does co-location of residence and employment occur?
*And finally, can land use policy and planning be strategically and locally applied to reduce car use?

A rapidly expanding literature continues to investigate the potential for land use planning and urban form to influence travel behaviour. The underlying theme of much of the research is to evaluate the potential contribution of land use planning in reducing car-based travel. This need to reduce car-based travel is rooted in the search for sustainability, and in particular the reduction of energy consumption. However, in practice, air pollution, energy consumption and traffic congestion costs continue to rise in most towns and cities, and getting people to reduce the impact of their car dependent lifestyles remains the ultimate planning brick wall (Crane, 1999).

This paper examines the land use and transport relationship in the study area: the county of Surrey, UK. The analysis considers the interaction of urban form influences ? such as density of development, settlement size, distance from urban centres and transport networks, jobs and housing balance, local neighbourhood design, public transport accessibility and green belt designation ? and socio-economic influences ? such as income and car ownership, house tenure and attitude to travel ? with travel behaviour.

The paper particularly examines the concept of spatio-temporality, demonstrating how the land use and transport relationship changes as travel behaviour is modified, and resident and employment locations co-locate over time. The analysis is based on two household surveys carried out in the county of Surrey in 1998 and 2001.


Association for European Transport