The effect of spatial configuration on land use and transport mode choices: Space syntax exploration on gridded and non-gridded American cities



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The theory of ‘natural movement’ postulates that configuration of the urban grid is an important generator of aggregate patterns of movement in urban areas (Hillier, Penn, Hanson, Grajewski, & Xu, 1993). Retail and commercial land uses locate themselves at these configurationally hotspot locations to take advantage of the economic opportunities created by movement i.e. passing customers (Hillier, 1996). These concentrations of retail and commercial activities are also the work places for a good number of people and in turn, will influence the choices of residential locations. Since journey-distance and journey-time are two very important factors influencing transport mode choice, (Plaut, 2005; Pucher & Dijkstra, 2003; Schwanen & Mokhtarian, 2005; Wardman, Tight, & Page, 2007) It is hypothesized that the locations of retails and commercial areas as understood by their configurational index, will first affect the choices of residential locations and also influence choices of commuting mode. This hypothesis is tested in four US cities of Boston, Pittsburgh, Lubbock, and Salt Lake City using data collected from online open source database of the respective cities and US census bureau. Space Syntax topological and angular analyses of CAD drawn axial lines and street centerlines extracted from GIS maps are performed for all cities. ArcGIS spatial analysis tools were applied to combine land use, socio-economic & demographic, transportation and Space Syntax variables to the scale of census block-groups that was selected as the study unit. Multiple regression analyses are carried out to identify relevant and significant variables explaining each mode of transport. The findings indicate that Space Syntax variables play an important role in explaining choice of commuting mode. In addition, several linear regression analyses are performed to examine the socio-economic and demographic pattern in the context of street configuration. The results indicate that renters and non-family households are configurationally separated from homeowners and family households. Renters and non-family households live in configurationally integrated areas where businesses are located and therefore are likely to walk. On the contrary, homeowners and family households live in configurationally segregated areas and tend to drive to work. The results of comparative analysis between gridded and non-gridded cities indicates that closeness variable called ‘integration’ and between-ness variable called ‘choice’ are relevant to explain waling and driving modes in gridded and non- gridded cities respectively.



Space syntax, GIS, Transport mode, Residential location, Sustainability