, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 739-758
Date: 15 May 2008

What neighborhood are you in? Empirical findings of relationships between household travel and neighborhood characteristics

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Abstract

In recent years, there have been studies of the influence of neighborhood or built environment characteristics on residential location choice and household travel behavior. Interestingly, there is no uniform definition of neighborhood in the literature and the definition is often vague. This paper presents an alternative way of defining neighborhood and neighborhood type, which involves innovative usage of public data sources. Furthermore, the paper investigates the interaction between neighborhood environment and household travel in the US. A neighborhood here is spatially identical to a census tract. A neighborhood type identifies a group of neighborhoods with similar neighborhood socio-economic, demographic, and land use characteristics. This is accomplished by performing log-likelihood clustering on the Census Transportation Planning Package (CTPP) 2000 data. Five household travel measures, i.e., number of trips per household, mode share, average travel distance and time per trip, and vehicle miles of travel (VMT), are then compared across the resulting 10 neighborhood types, using the 2001 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) household and trip files. It is found that household life cycle status and residential location are not independent. Transit availability at place of residence tends to increase the transit mode share regardless of household automobile ownership and income level, and job-housing trade-offs are evident when mobility is not of concern. The study also reveals racial preference in residential location and contrasting travel characteristics among ethnic groups.