Combining accessibilities for different activity types: Methodology and case study

  • Lijuan Zheng Chair and Institute of Urban and Transport Planning, RWTH Aachen University
  • Bert van Wee
  • Markus Oeser
Keywords: accessibility, weighting factor, quality of life, human needs


Accessibility is a key concept in transport planning. Most studies only focus on specific activity types, but for policy making it is more relevant to aggregate accessibility overall or at least several activity types. However, to the best of our knowledge, there is no study that combines accessibilities for different activity types. Since access to spatially separated activities is one dimension of quality of life, and activity types are not equally important for quality of life, we propose a methodology that is based on weighing activity types according to their relative importance to quality of life to assess overall accessibility. Four principles are adopted to develop the weighting factors: 1) the human needs the activity types satisfy; 2) the activity types' contribution to quality of life; 3) the activity types' trip frequency; 4) further modifications, based on principles such as whether the activity types are needed in emergent situations, and social values and policy preferences. We combine these four principles and apply the methodology in a case study focused on Germany.


Admin. (2017, October 13). Initiative “Kurze Beine- Kurze Wege.” Retrieved from

Alderfer, C. P. (1969). An empirical test of a new theory of human needs. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 4, 142–175.

Andrews, F. M., & Withey, S. B. (1974). Developing measures of perceived life quality: Results from several national surveys. Social Indicators Research, 1, 1–26.

Bergstad, C. J., Gamble, A., Hagman, O., Polk, M., Gärling, T., Ettema, D., … & Olsson, L. E. (2012). Influences of affect associated with routine out-of-home activities on subjective well-being. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 7, 49–62.

Betz, E. L. (1984). Two tests of Maslow’s theory of need fulfillment. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 24, 204–220.

Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., & Rodgers, W. L. (1976). The quality of American life: Perceptions, evaluations, and satisfactions. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Retrieved from quality of american life&f=false

Cervero, R., & Kockelman, K. (1997). Travel demand and the 3Ds: Density, diversity, and design. Transportation Research Part D Transport and Environment, 2(3).

Chapin, F. S. (1968). Activity systems and urban structure: A working schema. Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 34(1), 11–18.

Costanza, R., Fisher, B., Ali, S., Beer, C., Bond, L., … Boumans, R. (2007). Quality of life: An approach integrating opportunities, human needs, and subjective well-being. Ecological Economics, 61, 267–276.

Cummins, R. A., Eckersley, R., Pallant, J., van Vugt, J., & Misajon, R. (2003). Developing a national index of subjective wellbeing: The Australian unity wellbeing index. Social Indicators Research, 64, 159–190.

Curl, A., Nelson, J. D., & Anable, J. (2011). Does accessibility planning address what matters? A review of current practice and practitioner perspectives. Research in Transportation Business & Management, 2, 3–11.

Dalvi, M. Q., & Martin, K. M. (1976). The measurement of accessibility: Some preliminary results. Transportation, 5, 17–42.

Department for Transport. (2005). Guidance on accessibility planning in local transport plans. Retrieved from

De Vos, J., Schwanen, T., van Acker, V., Witlox, F. (2012). Travel and subjective well-being: A focus on findings, methods and future research needs. Transport Reviews, 33(4), 421–442.

El-geneidy, A. M., & Levinson, D. M. (2006). Access to destinations: Development of accessibility measures. Retrieved from

Elldér, E. (2014). Residential location and daily travel distances: The influence of trip purpose. Journal of Transport Geography, 34, 121–130.

Ettema, D., Gärling, T., Olsson, L. E., & Friman, M. (2010). Out-of-home activities, daily travel, and subjective well-being. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 44(9), 723–732.

Fodness, D. (1994). Measuring tourist motivation. Annals of Tourism Research, 21(3), 555–581.

Foth, N., Manaugh, K., & El-Geneidy, A. M. (2013). Towards equitable transit: Examining transit accessibility and social need in Toronto, Canada, 1996-2006. Journal of Transport Geography, 29, 1–10.

Fox, M. (1995). Transport planning and the human activity approach. Journal of Transport Geography, 3(2), 105–116.

Geurs, K., Haaijer, R., & van Wee, B. (2006). Option value of public transport: Methodology for measurement and case study for regional rail links in the Netherlands. Transport Reviews, 26(5), 613–643.

Geurs, K. T., & Ritsema van Eck, J. (2001). Accessibility measures: Review and applications. Evaluation of accessibility impacts of land-use transportation scenarios, and related social and economic impact. Retrieved from

Goossens, C. (2000). Tourism information and pleasure motivation. Annals of Tourism Research, 27(2), 301–321.

Great Britain Social Exclusion Unit. (2003). Making the connections: Final report on transport and social exclusion. Retrieved from

Grengs, J. (2015). Nonwork accessibility as a social equity indicator. International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, 9(1), 1–14.

Halden, D. (2002). Using accessibility measures to integrate land use and transport policy in Edinburgh and the Lothians. Transport Policy, 9, 313–324.

Karou, S., & Hull, A. (2014). Accessibility modelling: Predicting the impact of planned transport infrastructure on accessibility patterns in Edinburgh, UK. Journal of Transport Geography, 35, 1–11.

Jones, P. M. (1983). Understanding travel behavior. Brookfield, VT: Gower Publishing.

Litman, T. (2017). Evaluating accessibility for transportation planning measuring people’s ability to reach desired goods and activities. Retrieved from

Lucas, K., Bates, J., Moore, J., & Carrasco, J. A. (2016). Modelling the relationship between travel behaviors and social disadvantage. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 85, 157–173.

Maslow, A. H. (1970). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper & Row. Retrieved from

McFadden, D. (1974). The measurement of urban travel demand. Journal of Public Economics, 3, 303–328.

Pirie, G. H. (1979). Measuring accessibility: A review and proposal. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 11(3), 299–312.

Pyrialakou, V. D., Gkritza, K., & Fricker, J. D. (2016). Accessibility, mobility, and realized travel behavior: Assessing transport disadvantage from a policy perspective. Journal of Transport Geography, 51, 252–269.

Rawls, J. (1971). A theory of justice. Boston: Harvard University Press.

Reyes, M., Páez, A., & Morency, C. (2014). Walking accessibility to urban parks by children: A case study of Montreal. Landscape and Urban Planning, 125, 38–47.

Rubulotta, E., Ignaccolo, M., Inturri, G., & Rofè, Y. (2013). Accessibility and centrality for sustainable mobility: Regional planning case study. Journal of Urban Planning and Development, 139, 115–132.

Saxena, S., Carlson, D., Billington, R., & Orley, J. (2001). The WHO quality of life assessment instrument (WHOQOL-Bref): The importance of its items for cross-cultural research. Quality of Life Research, 10, 711–721.

Shen, Q. (1998). Location characteristics of inner-city neighborhood and employment accessibility of low-wage workers. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 25, 345–365.

Straatemeier, T., & Bertolini, L. (2008). Joint accessibility design framework developed with practitioners to integrate land use and transport planning in the Netherlands. Transportation Research Record, 2077, 1–8.

The World Health Organization Quality of Life Group. (1998). Development of the World Health Organization WHOQOL-BREF Quality of Life assessment. Psychological Medicine, 28, 551–558.

van Wee, B., & Geurs, K. (2011). Discussing equity and social exclusion in accessibility evaluations. European Journal of Transport and Infrastructure Research, 11(4), 350–367.

Ventegodt, S., Merrick, J., & Andersen, N. J. (2003). Quality of life theory III. Maslow revisited. The Scientific World Journal, 3, 1050–1057.

Wachs, M., & Kumagai, T. G. (1973). Physical accessibility as a social indicator. Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, 7, 437–456.

Yen, S. T., & Adamowicz, W. L. (1994). Participation, trip frequency and site choice: A multinomial-poisson hurdle model of recreation demand. Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 42, 65–76.

Zhan, G., Yan, X., Zhu, S., & Wang, Y. (2016). Using hierarchical tree-based regression model to examine university student travel frequency and mode choice patterns in China. Transport Policy, 45, 55–65.

How to Cite
Zheng, L., van Wee, B., & Oeser, M. (2019). Combining accessibilities for different activity types: Methodology and case study. Journal of Transport and Land Use, 12(1), 853-872.