Social Indicators Research

, Volume 141, Issue 1, pp 365–390 | Cite as

Quality of Life, Multimodality, and the Demise of the Autocentric Metropolis: A Multivariate Analysis of 148 Mid-Size U.S. Cities

  • Craig A. TalmageEmail author
  • Chad Frederick


Quality of life has recently gained prominence in the urban affairs, development, and planning debates. A wide-range of factors have been linked to quality of life, including environmental health, commute times, arts and cultural amenities, school quality, housing availability, and economic concerns. The accessibility inherent in multimodal transportation is critical in the functioning of metropolitan areas. What has not been explored is the association between multimodal transportation and urban quality of life. In this paper, we adapt the method of urban sociologists, Harvey Molotch and Richard Appelbaum, to explore the association between multimodality and 12 measures of quality of life. We analyze 148 cities in the United States with populations over 50,000 that are more than 20 miles from other similarly sized cities. Our test measure is the percentage of workers who commute by some means other than a single-occupant vehicle. Using bivariate and multivariate analysis, this study shows a higher quality of life in counties and metropolitan areas with higher levels of multimodal commuting. These findings underscore the positive impact of sustainable transportation policies on quality of life and opens up new directions for research and policy in the built environment.


Modal diversity Commute mode diversity Quality of life Sustainable development Active transportation Transportation planning 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hobart and William Smith CollegesGenevaUSA
  2. 2.University of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA

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