Monday, March 12, 2012

Perceptions of Accessibility to Neighborhood Retail and Other Public Services

by Kevin J. Krizek, Jessica Horning, and Ahmed M. El-Geneidy

As concerns such as growing traffic congestion continue to mount in communities nationwide, there is increasing attention to the role of the built environment in affecting behavior. Several movements stemming from the fields of urban planning, transportation, public health, and landscape architecture suggest that increasing accessibility by bringing trip origins and destinations closer together is a necessary step to reduce overall travel distances and help spur walking and bicycling. A key component to understanding the effectiveness of this approach, however, lies in knowing how close destinations need to be for residents to know they exist - and subsequently walk or bike to them. Equally important is understanding how individuals’ perception of walking distance to destinations differs from the actual distance and how these perceptions vary by type of destination (i.e., bank, coffee shop, etc.) or socio-demographic group.
This research focuses on understanding perceptions of individual proximity to urban businesses and facilities and associated measurement issues. The paper uses the results of a mail survey administered to residents living in urban, inner suburban, and outer suburban contexts in the Twin Cities, Minnesota region to analyze three aspects of distance perception. First, which measure of destination proximity maps most consistently with perceptions? Second, how do perceptions vary across different socio-demographic/economic groups or physically active/inactive residents? Third, what role does the type of business or facility play in affecting perceptions? This analysis suggests that perceived walking distance varies based on the characteristics of an individual’s neighborhood and the type of destination being judged. The findings assist urban planners, landscape architects, and even business owners, in learning the qualities of accessibility that affect perceptual issues such as proximity.

routes to nearest coffee shop, source: Krizek, K., *Horning, J. & El-Geneidy A.(2012). Perceptions of Accessibility to Neighborhood Retail and Other Public Services. In K. Geurs, K. Krizek & A. Reggiani (Eds.), For Accessibility and Transport Planning: Challenges for Europe and North America. Edward Elgar, London, UK.

more about neighborhoods:

Residents’ perceptions of walkability attributes in objectively different neighbourhoods: a pilot study

Measuring neighborhood distress: a tool for place-based urban revitalization strategies

The Causal Influence of Neighborhood Design on Physical Activity Within the Neighborhood: Evidence from Northern CaHfornia

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