How do socio-demographics and built environment affect individual accessibility based on activity space? Evidence from Greater Cleveland, Ohio

Na Chen, Gulsah Akar


Since the early 2000s, accessibility-based planning has been increasingly used to mitigate urban problems (e.g., traffic congestion and spatial mismatch) from a sustainable perspective. In particular, the concept of accessibility has been applied to investigate transport exclusion in many studies. However, few of them shed light on the effects of socio-demographics (e.g., income and gender) and the built environment (e.g., density) on accessibility at the individual level as a measure of transport exclusion. This study measures individual accessibility as the opportunities available per square mile within individual daily activity space for evaluating transport exclusion status based on the Capability Approach. Using data from the 2012 Northeast Ohio Regional Travel Survey and two opportunity sets (land uses and jobs), we calculate individual accessibility and compare them across three income groups. The comparisons report that low-income people are not disadvantaged in our study region. Path models are estimated to examine the relationships between socio-demographics, built environment, trip characteristics, and individual accessibility. We apply K-means cluster analysis to construct seven neighborhood types for the built environment. The results indicate that the effect of income on accessibility varies by opportunity types and living in urbanized neighborhoods increases people’s accessibility after controlling for other characteristics.


Accessibility; Activity Space; Transport Exclusion; Built Environment; Cluster Analysis; Path Analysis

Full Text:



Akar, G., N. Chen, and S. I. Gordon. 2016. Influence of neighborhood types on trip distances: Spatial error models for Central Ohio. International Journal of Sustainable Transportation 10(3): 284–293. doi: 10.1080/15568318.2014.903447.

Aldenderfer, M. S., and R. K. Blashfield. 1984. Cluster Analysis. Sage University Paper Series On Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences 07-044.

Atkins. 2012. Accessibility Planning Policy: Evaluation and Future Directions. Final report.

Barber, C. B., D. P. Dobkin, and H. Huhdanpaa. 1996. The quickhull algorithm for convex hulls. ACM Transactions on Matematical Software 22(4): 469–483. doi: 10.1145/235815.235821.

Bertolini, L., F. le Clercq, and L. Kapoen. 2005. Sustainable accessibility: A conceptual framework to integrate transport and land-use plan-making. Two test-applications in the Netherlands and a reflection on the way forward. Transport Policy 12(3): 207–220. doi:

Beyazit, E. 2011. Evaluating social justice in transport: Lessons to be learned from the capability approach. Transport Reviews 31(1): 117–134.

Blunch, N. J. 2008. Introduction to structural equation modelling using SPSS and AMOS. London, UK: Sage.

Bocarejo S. J. P., and D. R. Oviedo. 2012. Transport accessibility and social inequities: A tool for identification of mobility needs and evaluation of transport investments. Journal of Transport Geography 24: 142–154.

Burns, L. D. 1979. Transportation, Temporal, and Spatial Components of accessibility. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.

Casas, I. 2007. Social exclusion and the disabled: An accessibility approach. The Professional Geographer 59(4): 463–477.

Casas, I., M. W. Horner, and J. Weber. 2009. A comparison of three methods for identifying transport-based exclusion: A case study of children’s access to urban opportunities in Erie and Niagara Counties, New York. International Journal of Sustainable Transportation 3(4): 227–245.

Cervero, R., and K. Kockelman. 1997. Travel demand and the 3Ds: Density, diversity, and design. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment 2(3): 199–219.

Chen, N., and G. Akar. 2016. Effects of neighborhood types and socio-demographics on activity space. Journal of Transport Geography 54: 112–121. doi:

Clark, D. A. 2005. The capability approach: Its development, critiques and recent advances. Oxford, UK: University of Oxford, Department of Economics.

Clifton, K. J., K. M. Currans, A. C. Cutter, and R. Schneider. 2012. Household travel surveys in context-based approach for adjusting ITE trip generation rates in urban contexts. Transportation Research Record 2307(1): 108–119.

Collia, D. V., J. Sharp, and L. Giesbrecht. 2003. The 2001 national household travel survey: A look into the travel patterns of older Americans. Journal of Safety Research 34(4): 461–470.

Delmelle, E. C., and I. Casas. 2012. Evaluating the spatial equity of bus rapid transit-based accessibility patterns in a developing country: The case of Cali, Colombia. Transport Policy 20: 36–46. doi:

Ewing, R., and R. Cervero. 2010. Travel and the built environment: A meta-analysis. Journal of the American Planning Association 76(3): 265–294.

Ewing, R., M. Greenwald, M. Zhang, J. Walters, M. Feldman, R. Cervero, L. Frank, and J. Thomas. 2011. Traffic generated by mixed-use developments—six-region study using consistent built environmental measures. Journal of Urban Planning and Development 137(3): 248–261.

Exner, R. 2015. Census estimates show Greater Cleveland population down slightly 2015.

Faber, D. R., and E. J. Krieg. 2002. Unequal exposure to ecological hazards: Environmental injustices in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Environmental Health Perspectives 110(S2): 277–288.

Fan, Y., A. Guthrie, and D. Levinson. 2012. Impact of light rail implementation on labor market accessibility: A transportation equity perspective. Journal of Transport and Land Use 5 (3): 28–39.

Geurs, K. T., K. J. Krizek, and A. Reggiani. 2012. Accessibility analysis and transport planning: challenges for Europe and North America. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Geurs, K. T., and B. van Wee. 2004. Accessibility evaluation of land-use and transport strategies: Review and research directions. Journal of Transport Geography 12(2): 127–140. doi:

Gilbert, R., N. Irwin, B. Hollingworth, and P. Blais. 2002. Sustainable Transportation Performance Indicators (STPI) Projects. In Reports on Phase 3: CSTCTD.

Golledge, R. G. 1997. Spatial Behavior: A Geographic Perspective. New York: Guilford Press.

Golob, T. F. 2003. Structural equation modeling for travel behavior research. Transportation Research Part B: Methodological 37(1): 1–25.

Hägerstraand, T. 1970. What about people in regional science? Papers in Regional Science 24(1): 7–24.

Halden, D. 2014. Shaping the future: Case studies in UK accessibility planning. Transportation Research Procedia 1(1): 284–292. doi:

Handy, S. L. 2002. Accessibility- vs. mobility-enhancing strategies for addressing automobile dependence in the U.S. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California at Davis.

Hansen, W. G. 1959. How accessibility shapes land use. Journal of the American Institute of Planners 25(2): 73–76.

Harding, C., Z. Patterson, L. F. Miranda-Moreno, and S. A. H. Zahabi. 2012. Modeling the effect of land use on activity spaces. Transportation Research Record 2323(1): 67–74.

Horton, F. E., and D. R. Reynolds. 1971. Effects of urban spatial structure on individual behavior. Economic Geography 47(1): 36–48. doi: 10.2307/143224.

Ihlanfeldt, K. 1994. The spatial mismatch between jobs and residential locations within urban areas. Cityscape 1(1): 219–244.

Kamruzzaman, M., and J. Hine. 2012. Analysis of rural activity spaces and transport disadvantage using a multi-method approach. Transport Policy 19(1): 105–120.

Kawabata, M., and Q. Shen. 2006. Job accessibility as an indicator of auto-oriented urban structure: A comparison of Boston and Los Angeles with Tokyo. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 33(1): 115–130.

Kenyon, S., G. Lyons, and J. Rafferty. 2002. Transport and social exclusion: Investigating the possibility of promoting inclusion through virtual mobility. Journal of Transport Geography 10(3): 207–219.

Kim, H.-M., and M.-P. Kwan. 2003. Space-time accessibility measures: A geocomputational algorithm with a focus on the feasible opportunity set and possible activity duration. Journal of Geographical Systems 5(1): 71–91.

Kockelman, K. 1997. Travel behavior as function of accessibility, land-use mixing, and land-use balance: Evidence from San Francisco Bay Area. Transportation Research Record 1607: 116–125.

Krizek, K. J. 2003. Residential relocation and changes in urban travel: Does neighborhood-scale urban form matter? Journal of the American Planning Association 69(3): 265–281.

Kwan, M.-P. 1999. Gender and individual access to urban opportunities: A study using space–time measures. The Professional Geographer 51(2): 211–227. doi: 10.1111/0033-0124.00158.

Laurian, L., and R. Funderburg. 2014. Environmental justice in France? A spatio-temporal analysis of incinerator location. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 57 (3): 424–446.

Lefkowitz, M. 2015. 4-7-2015. Cleveland: Dead last in controlling jobs sprawl. In GreenCityBlueLake Blog.

Levine, J., J. Grengs, Q. Shen, and Q. Shen. 2012. Does accessibility require density or speed? A comparison of fast versus close in getting where you want to go in US metropolitan regions. Journal of the American Planning Association 78(2): 157–172.

Litman, T. 2002. Evaluating transportation equity. World Transport Policy and Practice 8(2): 50–65.

Litman, T., and M. Brenman. 2012. A new social equity agenda for sustainable transportation. Victoria, BC, Canada: Victoria Transport Policy Institute.

Lubin, A., and D. Deka. 2012. Role of public transportation as job access mode. Transportation Research Record 2277(1): 90–97.

Lucas, K., G. Marsden, M. Brooks, and M. Kimble. 2007. Assessment of capabilities for examining long-term social sustainability of transport and land-use strategies. Transportation Research Record 2013(1): 30–37.

Manaugh, K., and A. El-Geneidy. 2012. What makes travel local: Defining and understanding local travel behavior. Journal of Transport and Land Use 5(3): 15–27.

Manaugh, K., L. F. Miranda-Moreno, and A. M. El-Geneidy. 2010. The effect of neighborhood characteristics, accessibility, home-work location, and demographics on commuting distances. Transportation 37(4): 627–646. doi: 10.1007/s11116-010-9275-z.

Neutens, T., T. Schwanen, F. Witlox, and P. De Maeyer. 2010. Equity of urban service delivery: A comparison of different accessibility measures. Environment and Planning A 42(7): 1613.

Niemeier, D. A. 1997. Accessibility: An evaluation using consumer welfare. Transportation 24(4): 377–396.

Páez, A., R. G. Mercado, S. Farber, C. Morency, and M. Roorda. 2010. Relative accessibility deprivation indicators for urban settings: Definitions and application to food deserts in Montreal. Urban Studies 47(7): 1415–1438. doi: 10.1177/0042098009353626.

Páez, A., D. M. Scott, and C. Morency. 2012. Measuring accessibility: Positive and normative implementations of various accessibility indicators. Journal of Transport Geography 25: 141–153.

Pang-Ning, T., M. Steinbach, and V. Kumar. 2006. Introduction to data mining. Paper read at Library of Congress.

Preston, J., and F. Rajé. 2007. Accessibility, mobility and transport-related social exclusion. Journal of Transport Geography 15(3): 151–160.

Pritchard, J. P., F. Moura, J. d. A. e Silva, and L. M. Martinez. 2014. Spatial analysis of transportation-related social exclusion in the Lisbon metropolitan area. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences 111: 440–449.

Rashid, K., T. Yigitcanlar, and J. M. Bunker. 2010. Minimizing transport disadvantage to support knowledge city formation: Applying the capability approach to select indicators. Melbourne: The 3rd Knowledge Cities World Summit.

Robeyns, I. 2006. The capability approach in practice. Journal of Political Philosophy 14(3): 351–376.

Schönfelder, S., and K. W. Axhausen. 2003. Activity spaces: Measures of social exclusion? Transport Policy 10(4): 273–286. doi:

Schumacker, R. E., and R. G. Lomax. 2004. A Beginner’s Guide to Structural Equation Modeling. Oxfordshire, UK: Taylor and Fraincis, Psychology Press.

Sen, A. 1980. Equality of what? In Tanner Lectures on Human Values, Volume 1, edited by S. McMurrin. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Shen, Q. 1998. Location characteristics of inner-city neighborhoods and employment accessibility of low-wage workers. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 25(3): 345–365.

Sherman, J. E., J. Spencer, J. Preisser, W. Gesler, and T. Arcury. 2005. A suite of methods for representing activity space in a healthcare accessibility study. International Journal of Health Geographics 4(1): 1–21. doi: 10.1186/1476-072X-4-24.

Smith, N., D. Hirsch, and A. Davis. 2012. Accessibility and capability: The minimum transport needs and costs of rural households. Journal of Transport Geography 21: 93–101.

Social Exclusion Unit, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. 2003. Making the Connections: Final Report on Transport and Social Exclusion.

Wang, C.-H., and N. Chen. 2015. A GIS-based spatial statistical approach to modeling job accessibility by transportation mode: Case study of Columbus, Ohio. Journal of Transport Geography 45: 1–11.

Zhang, L., J. H. Hong, A. Nasri, and Q. Shen. 2012. How built environment affects travel behavior: A comparative analysis of the connections between land use and vehicle miles traveled in US cities. Journal of Transport and Land Use 5(3): 40–52.