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Regional Versus Local Accessibility: Implications for Nonwork Travel

Abstract

The question of how alternative forms of development affect travel patterns has recently been the focus of a heated debate, much of which centers on the effects of suburbanization in particular. The concept of accessibility provides an important tool for resolving this question. By measuring both the accessibility to activity within the community, or "local" accessibility, and the accessibility to regional centers of activity from that community, or "regional" accessibility, the structure of a community is more fully characterized. The research summarized uses the concepts of local and regional accessibility to test the implications for shopping travel of alternative forms of development in a case study of the San Francisco Bay Area. The results show that higher levels of both local and regional accessibility are associated with lower average shopping distances but are not associated with differences in shopping frequency. As a result, higher levels of both local and regional accessibility are associated with less total shopping travel. However, the effect of high levels of local accessibility is greatest when regional accessibility is low and vice versa. These findings suggest that policies should be directed toward enhancing both types of accessibility, but that the effects may work against each other to some degree.

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