Travel by Design: The Influence of Urban Form on Travel

Travel by Design: The Influence of Urban Form on Travel

Travel by Design: The Influence of Urban Form on Travel

Travel by Design: The Influence of Urban Form on Travel


Can transportation problems be fixed by the right neighborhood design? The tremendous popularity of the "new urbanism" and "livable communities" initiatives suggests that many persons think so. As a systematic assessment of attempts to solve transportation problems through urban design, this book asks and answers three questions: Can such efforts work? Will they be put into practice? Are they a good idea?


“A street is a street, and one lives there in a certain way not because architects have imagined streets in certain ways. ” (Culot and Krier, 1978, p. 42)

Urban Design and Transportation Planning

Travel is not a simple story.

Start with the trips people make from home to work, and then back home again. Each commute reflects choices of where to live, where to work, when to work, when to go home, how to get from home to work, and what side trips to make along the way. Each decision depends on the opportunities available, with those in turn explained by the characteristics, resources, and values of workers, their families, their employers, other travelers, and of course the built environment of sidewalks, streets, bus routes, and rail lines connecting home to work. Nonwork trips, the great majority of trips in modern times, entail even more finely detailed mosaics of people, places, and the variety of things one obtains, or hopes to obtain, by going somewhere. Travel is the outcome of a grand confluence of human and other factors, many systematic and many others not. It will never be fully understood.

But because travel poses numerous challenges, and opportunities, it would be good to understand more. Planning strategies to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality continue to get prominent attention. Several increasingly influential efforts emphasize the potentially mitigating role of the built environment.

For example, a good deal has been made in recent years of the fact that people drive less and walk more in downtown San Francisco than in suburbs anywhere. Part of this observed behavior is no doubt attributable to the kinds of people living there, people who prefer and indeed seek out the many benefits—travel and otherwise—of a diverse, high-density, mixed-use environment. But many observers have also asked, quite . . .

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