, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 663–678 | Cite as

Assessing the impact of the built environment on travel behavior: a case study of Buffalo, New York

  • Andrew J. Tracy
  • Peng Su
  • Adel W. Sadek
  • Qian Wang


Assessing the impact of characteristics of the built environment on travel behavior can yield valuable tools for land use and transportation planning. Of particular interest are planning models that can estimate the effects of ‘smart growth’ planning. In this paper, a post-processor method of quantifying and searching for relationships among many aspects of travel behavior and the built environment is developed and applied to the Buffalo, NY area. A wide scope of travel behavior is examined, and over 50 variables, many of which are based on high-detail data sources, are examined for potentially quantifying the built environment. Linear modeling is then used to relate travel behavior and the built environment, and the resulting models may be applied in a post-processor fashion to travel models to provide some measure of sensitivity to built environment modifications. The study’s findings demonstrate that mode choice is highly correlated to measures of the built environment, and that many of the principles of smart growth appear to be a valid way to encourage non-vehicle travel. Home-based VHT and VMT appear to be affected by the built environment to a lesser degree.


Smart growth Travel behavior The built environment Mode choice 



Funding for this research has been provided jointly by the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) and by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). The authors thank NYSERDA and NYSDOT for their support, and in particular Mr. Joseph Tario of NYSERDA, and Mr. Gary Frederick of NYSDOT. The authors also thank Hal Morse and the GBNRTC staff for providing the data needed for this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew J. Tracy
    • 1
  • Peng Su
    • 1
  • Adel W. Sadek
    • 2
  • Qian Wang
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental EngineeringUniversity at Buffalo, The State University of New YorkBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental EngineeringUniversity at Buffalo, The State University of New YorkBuffaloUSA
  3. 3.Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental EngineeringUniversity at Buffalo, The State University of New YorkBuffaloUSA

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