Analysis of the Influence of Environmental Characteristics of New Urban Developments on Directed and Undirected Travel (Case study: Five New Neighborhoods in the North of Isfahan)

Document Type : Research Paper



Modern world faces a multitude of challenges regarding displacement including high fuel consumption, air pollution, congestion in streets, decrease in physical activities, insecurity of passers-by etc. most of which result from dependence on automobiles and the vehicle-stricken urban forms. Planners and public health officials are turning to land planning and urban design for help in reducing automobile use and related social and environmental costs. A growing number of empirical studies have contributed to the debate about the relationship between the built environment and pedestrian behavior.These studies found that residents living in traditional neighborhoods (characterized as high density, high accessibility, mixed land use, rectilinear street network, and so on) drive less and walk more than those living in suburban neighborhoods. The results of the some studies have been different and sometimes inconsistent and transferability of their primary findings to other countries has not been tested yet. Despite many studies in other countries, generally in Iran and particularly in Isfahan, this relation has not so far been investigated while new developments are incrementally emerging. In addition, the majority of previous studies ignore distinguishing between travel for utilitarian purpose and travel for its own sake while combination of these two types of travel is likely to lead to biased conclusion. Present research, which is a correlational study, aims to investigate the factors that affect travel behavior new urban development in Isfahan. In this regard, 5 new neighborhoods have been carefully selected. In fact, this study explores correlation between perceived built environment factors and two types of travels (travel to a certain destination/directed of travel and travel whit no particular destination in mind /undirected travel). Results show that, for directed travel, frequencies of trip by auto is significantly more than frequencies of trip by walking. While for undirected frequencies of trip by walking is more than frequencies of trip by auto. Also, results of negative binomial models, after controlling for attitudinal and sociodemographic factors, demonstrate that safety and accessibility negatively impact on directed driving and proximity, attractiveness of walking/cycling and accessibility positively impact on directed walking. For undirected travel, proximity and accessibility have negative association with frequencies of auto trips and safety has positive association with frequencies of walking trips. Finally accessibility may lead to the substitution of walking/biking for driving. the study offers a number of valuable insights into the relationship between the built environment and nonwork travel behavior. It shows that neighborhood characteristics are associated with individuals’ travel decisions, especially non-motorized travel frequency. mixed land uses tend to discourage auto travel and facilitate the use of non-motorized modes; the availability of walking/biking infrastructures are important predictors for non-motorized travel; and walking/biking behavior is also affected by the aesthetic quality and social context of the built environment. All these associations are present even after accounting for the influences of scio-economic and travel attitudes. Therefore, although this study does not definitely confirm causality between the built environment and travel behavior, it strongly suggests that the built environment itself influences individuals’ travel behavior.


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