Synergistic neighborhood relationships with travel behavior: An analysis of travel in 30,000 US neighborhoods


  • Carole Turley Voulgaris University of California, Los Angeles
  • Brian D. Taylor University of California, Los Angeles
  • Evelyn Blumenberg University of California, Los Angeles
  • Anne Brown University of California, Los Angeles
  • Kelcie Ralph Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey



Neighborhood classification, travel behavior


A now substantial body of literature finds that land use and urban form have a statistically significant, albeit relatively modest, effect on travel behavior. Some scholars have suggested that various built-environment characteristics influence travel more in concert than when considered in isolation. Yet few previous studies have combined built-environment measures to create holistic descriptions of the overall character of neighborhoods, and fewer still have related these neighborhoods to residents’ travel decisions. To address this gap in the literature, we develop a typology of seven distinct neighborhood types by applying factor analysis and then cluster analysis to a set of 20 variables describing built-environment characteristics for most census tracts in the United States. We then include these neighborhood types in a set of multivariate regression models to estimate the effect of neighborhood type on the travel behavior of neighborhood residents, controlling for an array of personal and household characteristics. We find relatively little variation in the number of daily trips among neighborhood types, but there is substantial neighborhood variation in both person miles of travel and mode choice. Travel by residents of one particular neighborhood type is notably distinguished from all others by a very low number of miles traveled, little solo driving, and high transit use. However, this neighborhood type is found almost exclusively in just a few very large metropolitan areas, and its replicability is uncertain.

Author Biographies

Carole Turley Voulgaris, University of California, Los Angeles

Carole Turley is an urban planning doctoral student at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

Brian D. Taylor, University of California, Los Angeles

Brian D. Taylor is a professor of urban planning, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies, and director of the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Evelyn Blumenberg, University of California, Los Angeles

Evelyn Blumenberg is a professor of urban planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Anne Brown, University of California, Los Angeles

Anne Brown is an urban planning doctoral student at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Kelcie Ralph, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Kelcie Ralph is an assistant professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers.


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How to Cite

Voulgaris, C. T., Taylor, B. D., Blumenberg, E., Brown, A., & Ralph, K. (2016). Synergistic neighborhood relationships with travel behavior: An analysis of travel in 30,000 US neighborhoods. Journal of Transport and Land Use, 10(1).