How Far, by Which Route and Why? A Spatial Analysis of Pedestrian Preference
This paper reports on a survey of pedestrian trips to transit that examined the trip lengths and route choices made by people walking to five rail transit stations in California and Oregon. In highly motorized countries such as the US, policy-makers are beginning to recognize that shifting some travel from auto trips to walking trips can help the country achieve important policy objectives such as combating obesity and reducing the air pollution and oil dependency that result from auto use. However, researchers know very little about pedestrian behaviour and the role of the built and aesthetic environment in influencing pedestrian trips to transit. As communities wrestle with the interconnected issues of obesity, sprawl, and quality of life, planners need to understand how far Americans will walk to transit and the environmental factors that influence them. This survey of 328 pedestrians walking to rail stations, primarily on weekday mornings, found that they were willing to walk an average of half a mile to the rail station and that minimizing the distance walked was the most important factor influencing their choice of route. The people surveyed also frequently mentioned safety factors as important in route choice. Aesthetic elements of the built environment, on the other hand, were rarely mentioned as important route choice factors. The paper concludes by using these survey findings to recommend strategies that planners, designers, and policy-makers can use to design successful transit and pedestrian-oriented developments.