Several studies of relationships between urban land use and travel have shown correlations between daily-life travel behavior and the location of the dwelling. However, in order to substantiate that residential location is a (contributory) cause of such differences, we must show the basic mechanisms by which the location of dwellings influences travel behavior. Examples showing the rationales on which people base their frequency of participation in out-of-home activities, the location of these activities, the modes of travel used to reach these locations, and the routes followed make up important elements in this endeavor.
Based on qualitative interviews carried out as part of a comprehensive study of residential location and travel in Hangzhou Metropolitan Area, China, this article seeks to show how various types of rationales for activity participation, location of activities, travel modes and route choice tend to strengthen or weaken aggregate-level relationships between residential location and travel. In particular, the influences of such rationales on the relative importance of residential location close to the main city center and local centers, respectively, will be demonstrated. The tendency of inhabitants in modern cities to emphasize the possibility of choosing among facilities rather than proximity means that the amount of travel is influenced to a higher extent by the location of the residence in relation to concentrations of facilities, rather than the distance to the closest single facility within a category. Daily traveling distances therefore tend to be more influenced by the distance from the dwelling to the city’s main concentration of facilities (usually the inner city) than by its distance to local centers. The same applies to the travel modes chosen, where rationales concerning physical efforts, time-saving and flexibility motivate inner-city dwellers for more frequent use of non-motorized modes and fewer trips by car than among suburbanites.
- Aalborg University, Denmark