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Title:Neighborhood Design and Aging: An Empirical Analysis in Northern California
Authors:Xinyu Cao, Patricia L. Mokhtarian, and Susan L. Handy
Publication Date:Sep 2007
Report #:DP-189
TRID #:01080528
Keywords:accessibility, aged, design, land use, mobility, mode choice, neighborhoods, policy, residential location, travel behavior, walking
Type:Research Report – Department Publications


The low mobility of seniors may be due in part to a history of auto-oriented transportation and land use policy decisions. More recently, land use policies that make it possible to drive less show promise of effectiveness for the population as a whole. However, little attention has been paid to the implications of such policies for older people. Using data collected from Northern California in 2003, this study focuses on residential and travel choices of the elderly. The results show that the elderly have stronger preferences for driving-reducing neighborhood attributes, but are less likely to live in a place that meets their preferences than younger people. Generally, older people drive less and use alternative modes more often than younger people. After controlling for attitudes and socio-demographics, various elements of neighborhood design are associated with travel behavior. Overall, although neighborhood design has limited effects on reducing driving and promoting transit use, enhancing accessibility tends to be a promising strategy for promoting walking trips. In particular, the shorter the distance to the closest grocery store, the higher the frequency of walking to the store. Further, this enhanced accessibility has a much larger effect on the elderly than on the younger. Therefore, neighborhood design seems to be an important aspect of sustaining the accessibility of older people.

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