Edited by Robin Hickman, Moshe Givoni, David Bonilla and David Banister
Does urban structure influence travel? The theory of environmental or architectural determinism ascribes great importance to the physical environment as a determinant of travel behavior. The counter view is that social and economic factors are the main, or even exclusive, drivers of travel behavior. If urban structure plays a role in determining travel behavior patterns, then the way we design and build neighborhoods, cities, and regions are contributing factors. The degree to which urban structure determines human travel behavior, however, remains a long-running debate in urban planning research. Recent and historic advances reflect the complexity of the relationship between urban structure and travel. This chapter presents a review of the literature, major findings, remaining questions, and conclusions. We first synthesize findings regarding the impacts of urban structure on travel at the regional (macro) scale, followed by those at the neighbourhood (mezzo) scale. The hypothesis of this chapter is decidedly environmental and deterministic in its outlook: urban structure significantly influences travel. The objective of synthesizing the historic and current literature is to offer perspectives on the scale of urban structure’s influence and the conditions under which its impact is greatest. While most of the literature and examples are from the US, relevant international literature is drawn upon when available, including studies from the United Kingdom and Australia.
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