The Personal City: The Experiential, Cognitive Nature of Travel and Activity and Implications for Accessibility

One aspect of accessibility that has received relatively little attention from planners is its cognitive, experiential aspect. Individuals’ activity and travel choices require not just money and time but also information about opportunities in the city. This component of an individual’s accessibility is highly personal but also dependent on the terrain of land uses and transportation options shaped by planners and policymakers. Through a series of empirical analyses of activity patterns and cognitive maps of the Los Angeles region, the factors that shape individual accessibility are explored. The first analysis investigates the spatial nature of personal cities, using the activity spaces of respondents to explore the types of opportunities that different populations within a city can access. The second demonstrates the differences – depending on mode of travel – among individuals’ perceptions of the city, even when location is held constant. The third analysis continues an exploration of the personal city by considering its fundamental components. Overall, the analyses support the relevance of the personal city framework to accessibility research, highlighting in particular that planning interventions are filtered through experiential and cognitive processes. The findings highlight that the accessibility impacts of transportation and land use patterns are felt not just in the instantaneous calculations of a microeconomic choice framework, but also in the long-term, developmental processes of cognition and experience. For urban planners, the implications of this research include evidence of how the built environment can effectively reduce travel while maintaining accessibility and how different transportation modes afford varying levels of functional accessibility. Experience, information, and learning are elements of urban daily life traditionally neglected by planners but with potential to increase opportunity and accessibility for diverse urban populations.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This research was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, University Transportation Centers program. Dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Planning, University of California, Los Angeles.
  • Corporate Authors:

    University of California, Los Angeles

    Department of Urban Planning, 3250 School of Public Affairs Building
    P.O. Box 951656
    Los Angeles, CA  United States  90095-1656

    University of California Transportation Center

    U.S. Campus Mail 2614
    Dwight Way
    Berkeley, CA  United States  94720-1782

    California Department of Transportation

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    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

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  • Authors:
    • Mondschein, Andrew S
  • Publication Date: 2013-8-1


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 249p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01497390
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: UC Berkeley Transportation Library
  • Report/Paper Numbers: UCTC-DISS-2013-2
  • Created Date: Sep 17 2013 4:33PM