Perceptions of Walking Distance to Neighborhood Retail and Other Public Services

As concerns such as growing traffic congestion continue to mount in communities nationwide, there is increasing attention devoted to the role of infrastructure investments in affecting travel behavior. Several movements stemming from the fields of urban planning, transportation, and landscape architecture suggest that bringing trip origins and destinations closer together is a necessary step to reduce overall travel distances and promote use of “active transportation” modes such as 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 individual’s 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. We use 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? Our analysis suggests that perceived walking distance varies based upon the characteristics of an individual’s neighborhood and the type of destination being judged. These findings will assist business owners, urban planners, and landscape architects in learning qualities of accessibility that affect perceptual issues such as proximity.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: DVD
  • Features: Figures; Maps; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 18p
  • Monograph Title: TRB 87th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers DVD

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01088447
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 08-2018
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Jan 29 2008 4:22PM