Residential location, commuting and non-work travel in two urban areas of different size and with different center structures
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionProgress in Planning. 2017, 128 (February), 1-36. 10.1016/j.progress.2017.10.002
There is an extensive literature on relationships between the built environment and travel, but the vast majority of such studies rely solely on statistical analyses of available travel survey data, with limited possibilities for demonstrating causality. This article presents findings from a methodologically novel study drawing on a combination of a tailor-made questionnaire survey and in-depth qualitative interviews, including cross-sectional as well as longitudinal analyses. Our mixed-methods approach offers stronger evidence of causal influences than in most previous studies on the built environment and travel. We illuminate such relationships in two metropolitan areas differing considerably in their size and urban structure: the relatively monocentric Norwegian capital Oslo and the smaller, predominantly polycentric Stavanger area. The study encompasses travel distances and modes for both commuting and intra-metropolitan non-work purposes. The paper thus offers a comparison of the influences of built environment characteristics on travel across metropolitan contexts as well as for different travel purposes. In both metropolitan areas and for commuting as well as non-work trips, inner-city dwellers make a higher proportion of trips by non-motorized modes and a lower share by car. Inner-city residents in both metropolitan areas also travel shorter distances for non-work purposes than their suburban counterparts do. In the relatively monocentric Oslo metropolitan area, commuting distances also tend to increase substantially the further away from the city center the workers live. In the more polycentric Stavanger metropolitan area, commuting distances are first and foremost influenced by the location of the dwelling relative to a large suburban employment center, and only secondarily by its distance to the city center of Stavanger. Commuting distances as well as travel modes for both commuting and non-work travel depend mostly on the distance from the dwelling to the main or second-order centers of the urban region. Local built environment characteristics play a greater role for trip distances to non-work destinations, particularly in the Oslo region. The results generally support urban containment as a strategy to promote sustainable mobility, with inner-city densification as particularly favorable.