Accessibility and Spatial Interaction

Accessibility and Spatial Interaction

NECTAR Series on Transportation and Communications Networks Research

Edited by Ana Condeço-Melhorado, Aura Reggiani and Javier Gutiérrez

The concept of accessibility is linked to the level of opportunities available for spatial interaction (flows of people, goods or information) between a set of locations, through a physical and/or digital transport infrastructure network. Accessibility has proved to be a crucial tool for understanding the framework of sustainability policy in light of best practice planning and decision-making processes. Methods such as cost–benefit analysis, multi-criteria analysis and risk analysis can benefit greatly from embedding accessibility results. This book presents a cohesive collection of recent studies, modeling and discussing spatial interaction by means of accessibility indicators

Chapter 2: Novel methods for the estimation of cost–distance decay in potential accessibility models

John Östh, Aura Reggiani and Giacomo Galiazzo

Subjects: economics and finance, public sector economics, transport, geography, cities, urban and regional studies, transport


In much accessibility research, arbitrary estimates of the distance sensitivity parameters have been used to represent the distance decay parameters in potential accessibility models. These estimates might be considered arbitrary since the choice of value and the choice of the distance decay function is often motivated by statistical indicators of the goodness of fit on spatial flows, given the fact that measures of ‘real’ accessibilities are missing. Starting from these considerations, in this chapter we introduce a new approach, the half-life model originating from the natural sciences, to estimate distance decay parameters. This method is compared with two conventional approaches originating from spatial economic science for the computation of distance decay parameters: the unconstrained and the doubly constrained spatial interaction models. The emerging distance decay parameters will be then considered in the construction of accessibility indicators based on the potential accessibility introduced by Hansen in 1959. In this context, both the mean and the median distance will be taken into account in order to identify MAUP-related issues. The exploration of these three approaches focuses on empirical analyses of accessibility in Sweden at the municipal level for 1993 and 2008. All the emerging accessibility indicators are compared in order to analyse similarities and differences in the hierarchical accessibility levels of the Swedish municipalities. The chapter concludes with some methodological and empirical remarks on the adoption of these three approaches, in the light of possible forecasts and related policy analyses.

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