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Impacts of Suburban Business Density on Walking Behavior
The Access magazine of the University of California Transportation Center recently published a study investigating the impacts that urban design factors, street density, business counts, job counts, and retail sales have on walking behavior in suburban downtowns and auto-oriented corridors. The authors sought to identify the role that urban design and land use factors play to encourage walking, as well as the impacts walking behavior would have in reducing congestion.
The analysis found that the number of businesses per acre -- rather than the higher retail sales and employment counts associated with larger stores -- has the biggest impact on instigating walking trips within the subset of walkable neighborhoods. The authors also found that the density of businesses required to spur more walking trips is above the level that the population of a typical neighborhood node or suburban downtown could support, suggesting that connections to auto and transit networks should be carefully integrated for these pedestrian districts to be successful.