The Influences of the Built Environment and Residential Self-Selection on Pedestrian Behavior: Evidence from Austin, TX

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - pedestrian, planning - surveys, policy - environment, ridership - behaviour


Trip purpose, Travel surveys, Transportation policy, Shopping trips, Residential streets, Residential location, Residential areas, Recreational trips, Place of residence, Pedestrians, Neighborhoods, Mixed use development, Joint occupancy of buildings, Human behavior, Commercial strips, Case studies, Binomial distributions, Behaviour, Behavior, Austin (Texas)


Planners and public health officials are encouraging policies that improve the quality of the built environment for pedestrians: mixed land uses, interconnected street networks, sidewalks, and other facilities. Whether such policies will prove effective partly depends on two issues. First, the impact of the built environment on pedestrian behavior may depend on the purpose of the trip, whether for utilitarian or recreational purposes. Second, the connection between the built environment and pedestrian behavior may be more a matter of residential location choice than of travel choice. This study aims to provide new evidence on both questions. Using information from a 1995 survey conducted in six neighborhoods in Austin, TX, two separate negative binomial models were estimated for the frequencies of strolling trips and pedestrian shopping trips within neighborhoods. An overview of average frequencies for both types of travel in these neighborhoods shows that strolling trips account for the majority of total walking trips made by respondents. Findings suggest that although residential self-selection impacts both types of trips, it is the most important factor explaining walking to a destination, i.e. for shopping. After accounting for self-selection, neighborhood characteristics (especially perceptions of these characteristics) impact strolling frequency, while characteristics of local commercial areas are important in facilitating shopping trips. This result implies that strolling trips and shopping trips are influenced by different dimensions of the built environment.