The Relationship Between Urban Form and Activity Patterns: Preliminary Conclusions from an Activity Survey.



The Relationship Between Urban Form and Activity Patterns: Preliminary Conclusions from an Activity Survey.

Authors

SNELLEN D, BORGERS A and TIMMERMANS H, Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands

Description

As~!mptions about the relationship between urban structure and travel behaviour have found their way in p!nnnlng concepts and policies. A good example is the New Urbanism movement, which proposes new urban design principles to cope with urban sprawl~ the

Abstract

As~!mptions about the relationship between urban structure and travel behaviour have found their way in p!nnnlng concepts and policies. A good example is the New Urbanism movement, which proposes new urban design principles to cope with urban sprawl~ the predominance of the car in every day life and the liveability of neighbourhoods [Katz, 1994]. Likewise, several countries have developed policies based on assumed, as opposed to empirically validated, reasoning concerning the relationship between urban form and transportation. For example, the Dutch government has developed a location policy for businesses and institutions [-Ministry of Housing, Spatial planning and the Environment, 1990], which regulates the type of location where particular businesses and institutions should be located. This location policy is based on the central assumption that more people ~ use public transport to go to work flit is made available close to their place of work.

The nature of the relationship between travel behaviour and urban structure has also been subject of academic debate. Some scholars believe in the effect of urban plznning on travel behaviour and state that good plznning is bound to be successfifl [Novena, 1997], others are more cautious and provide empirical evidence that the effect of urban structure on travel patterns is limited at best, unless major boundaries are crossed [Timmermans & van der Waerden, 1997].

An extensive bibliography on this subject was published in 1997 [Handy, 1997]. The overall conclusion of this bibliography was that the most popular assumptions and beliefs about the relationship between urban structure and travel behaviour are generally supported by empirical studies, in particular those on the effects of density. Other findings were that the positive effects of mixed land use could not consistently be demonstrated and that decentralisation of jobs tends to result in shorter trips but higher shares of car use. As far as the overall structure of the city is concerned, most studies conclude that polyceutric forms result in fewer trips, shorter trips and less energy use than monocentric and dispersed forms.

The research conducted to date poses us with two problems. First, it focuses mainly on either urban characteristics at a large scale and total vehicle miles travelled, or on smM1 scale neighbourhoods in detailed case studies including only a few neighbourhoods, but these two scales are rarely combined in a single study.

Consequently, runny previous studies are suspect of basic methodological flaws. Secondly, because most research is conducted in countries other than the Netherlands, the results do not necessarily apply to the Netherlands. The organlsation of Dutch cities differs in several respects from cities in the United States, where most of the studies were conducted. Moreover, bicycle use is less pronounced in other countries and therefore hardly reflected in the research results.

In our research project, we try to provide a solution to these shortcomings by collecting data, specific to Dutch cities, from a multi-level perspective. In an extensive survey, we have collected activity and trip data in several neighbourhoods in 9 Dutch cities across the country. This palaer reports the results of a first analysis of these data, collected in the 3Fall of 1997. In particular, we focus on two kinds of trips, home-to- work trips and daily shopping trips. We expect that the former trips generally go beyond neighbourhood borders, whereas the latter trips stay mainly within the neighbourhood or involve adjacent neighbourhoods. Limiting our analyses to these two kinds of trips may thus give us a quick, albeit perhaps still rough, indication of the effects of urban physical characteristics on travel behaviour at both the level of the neighbourhood and the city. It should be emphasised, however, from the very begnning that ultimately a multi-level model is required to better capture the exact relationship, if any, between urban structure and activity patterns.

This paper is structured as follows. In the next section the research approach will be discussed. Hypotheses will be formulated, the data collection including the selection of variables Hill be outlined and the form of analysis will be described. Next, we describe the results of the analysis, followed by a section in which we interpret these results and draw conclusions. Finally, we Hill give some recommendations for further research.

Publisher

Association for European Transport