Driving and Land Use: An Explanatory Model

by Paul Schimek

Plotting the driving data from the Vehicle Census shows clearly that people drive less in urban areas. What explains this difference? We tested a variety of potential explanatory variables – demographics, income, density, land uses, street width, intersections, sidewalks, and transit availability. Comparing these one at a time against miles driven can be misleading. For example, considered by themselves, more sidewalks, buildings, and area property value are each associated with less driving. But once we control for other factors, it turns out that the apparent relationship of each of them to driving disappears. We find that fewer roads, more intersections, and frequent transit do have an independent effect on reducing driving. But by far the strongest predictors of driving are population density and owner-occupied housing. by Paul Schimek, Zia Sobhani, and Kim Ducharme


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