Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board
The potential to moderate travel demand through changes in the built environment is the subject of more than 50 recent empirical studies. The majority of recent studies are summarized. Elasticities of travel demand with respect to density, diversity, design, and regional accessibility are then derived from selected studies. These elasticity values may be useful in travel forecasting and sketch planning and have already been incorporated into one sketch planning tool, the Environmental Protection Agency's Smart Growth Index model. In weighing the evidence, what can be said, with a degree of certainty, about the effects of built environments on key transportation "outcome" variables: trip frequency, trip length, mode choice, and composite measures of travel demand, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and vehicle hours traveled (VHT)? Trip frequencies have attracted considerable academic interest of late. They appear to be primarily a function of socioeconomic characteristics of travelers and secondarily a function of the built environment. Trip lengths have received relatively little attention, which may account for the various degrees of importance attributed to the built environment in recent studies. Trip lengths are primarily a function of the built environment and secondarily a function of socioeconomic characteristics. Mode choices have received the most intensive study over the decades. Mode choices depend on both the built environment and socioeconomics (although they probably depend more on the latter). Studies of overall VMT or VHT find the built environment to be much more significant, a product of the differential trip lengths that factor into calculations of VMT and VHT.
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