Monday, February 7, 2011

Traditional Neighborhoods and Auto Ownership

 By Daniel Baldwin Hess and Paul M. Ong

Many cities have traditional neighborhoods, or established, inner-city districts comprised of diverse housing, mixed-land uses, pedestrian connectivity and convenient transit access. This study quantifies the likely effects of land use patterns on auto ownership for such neighborhoods. Using Portland, Oregon, we test a model that explains auto ownership based on household, neighborhood, and urban design characteristics. The index of mixed-land use is statistically significant, ceteris paribus. We find compelling evidence of the impact of mixed-land use on auto ownership: as land use mix changes from diverse to homogeneous, the probability of owning an auto decreases by 31 percentage points. The findings imply that traditional neighborhoods are more conducive to alternatives to private vehicle use, such as walking and public transit, and to higher motor vehicle costs.

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