Urban planning and mobility styles: more than a relation

  • Elisabetta Vitale Brovarone Politecnico di Torino


The relation between transport and land use is a widely debated issue. As many authors outlined and the common sense suggests, land use and transport are two sides of the same coin. With few exceptions, people travel in order to reach places where they can carry out their activities. If one the one side talking about land use and mobility may seem redundant, this kind of feeling of redundancy and yet the great and growing interest of the scientific community reveal the complexity of this relation. Does the spatial structure of cities influence mobility styles? Besides some theoretical assumptions, many researches tried to answer this question and to find evidences for it, especially in terms of causality. Most of the scientific literature about the influence of urban structure on mobility can be found within the debate over compact city and urban sprawl. Two main goals can be identified for these studies (the first being by some means functional to the second): a deep understanding of the relation between the two fields and the detection of a “good” urban structure. Moreover, this relation is analyzed in order to devise and support integrated land use and transport strategies meant to counter sprawl and de-territorialization processes and to get to a more balanced modal share. Research efforts, those of the last decade in particular, are then focused on finding causal relations between land use and transport, in order to support - or in some cases to undermine - integrated policies (e.g. Transit Oriented Development in the USA or the ABC policy in the Netherlands). Despite the amount and variety of studies devoted to this topic, this relation is still far from being understood and empirically proven, turning out to be a very complex and disputed issue. Considering the evolution of the literature on the relation between the spatial structure of cities and the inhabitants’ travel behaviour, a gradual softening of positions can be identified, so that unambiguous positions are disappearing. Analyzing the literature about the relation between transport and land use, the paper will identify the main emerging problematic issues and controversies. Not denying the importance of causal relations between urban structure and mobility styles, the question that will be addressed, and that underlies the analysis, is whether the evidence for this relation should be considered as a staging post for devising policies to counter de-territorialization processes and unsustainable lifestyles or not.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Elisabetta Vitale Brovarone, Politecnico di Torino
Dipartimento Interateneo Territorio - DITER Dottorato in Pianificazione Territoriale e Sviluppo Locale


Banister D., Watson S., Wood C. (1997) “Sustainable Cities – Transport, energy and urban form”, Environment and Planning B, 24(1), 125-143.

Boarnet M. G., Sarmiento S. (1998) “Can Land-use Policy Really Affect Travel Behaviour? A Study of the Link Between Non-work Travel and Land-use Characteristics”, Urban Studies, 35(7), 1155-1169.

Breheny, M. (1997) “Urban compaction: feasible and acceptable?”, Cities, 14(4), 209-217.

Buchanan C. (1963) Traffic in Towns: A study of the long term problems of traffic in urban areas, H.M.S.O., London.

Bravo M., Briceño L., Cominetti R., Cortés C., Martínez F. (2010) “An integrated behavioral model of the land-use and transport systems with network congestion and location externalities”, Transportation Research B, 44(4), 584-596.

Ceccarelli P., Gabrielli B., Rozzi R., (1968) Traffico urbano: che fare?, Marsilio, Padova.

Cervero R. (2003) “Road Expansion, Urban Growth, and Induced Travel: A Path Analysis”, Journal of the American Planning Association, 69(2), 145-163.

Clifton K., Ewing R., Knaap G., Song Y. (2008) “Quantitative analysis of urban form: a multidisciplinary review” Journal of Urbanism, 1(1), 17-45.

Crane R. (1999) “The Impacts of Urban Form on Travel: A Critical Review” Working Paper, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Cambridge, MA, www.lincolninst.edu/pubs/dl/62_Crane99.pdf.

Crane R., Scweitzer L.A. (2003) “Transport and Sustainability: the Role of the Built Environment” Built Environment, 29(3), 238-252.

Dyckman J.W. (1968) “Problemi dei trasporti nelle città”, in Ceccarelli et al. (1968).

Ewing R., Cervero R. (2001) “Travel and the built environment: a synthesis” Transportation Research Record, 1780, 87-113.

Giuliano, G. (1995) “The weakening transportation-land use connection” Access, 6, 3-11.

Haedicar P., Curtis C. (1998) “The location of new residential development: its influence on car-based travel”, in Banister D., Transport Policy and the Environment. Spon, London, 220-240.

Handy S., Cao X., Mokhtarian P. (2005) “Correlation or causality between the built environment and travel behavior? Evidence from Northern California” Transportation Research D, 10(6), 427-444.

Kitamura R., Mokhtarian P., Laidet L. (1997)”A micro-analysis of land use and travel in five neighbourhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area” Transportation, 24(2), 125-158.

Jonathan Levine, (2006) Zoned Out. Regulation, Markets and Choices in Transportation and Metropolitan Land Use, Resources for the Future, Washington.

Levinson D., Krizek K. (2008) Planning for Place and Plexus. Metropolitan Land Use and Transport, Routledge, New York and London.

Mokhtarian P.L., Samaniego F.J., Shumway R.H., Willits N.H. (2002) “Revisiting the notion of induced traffic through a matched-pairs study” Transportation, 29(2), 193-220.

Naess P. (2005) “Residential location affects travel behaviour - but how and why? The case of Copenhagen metropolitan area” Progress in Planning, 63(2), 167-157.

Newman P., Kenworthy, J. R., (1999) Sustainability and Cities: overcoming automobile dependence, Island Press, Washington.

Riganti P. (2008) Città, attività, spostamenti. La pianificazione della mobilità urbana, Carocci, Roma.

Royce A. Singleton, Bruce C. Straits (1999) Approaches to Social Research, Third Ed. Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford.

Stead D. (2001) “Relationships between land use, socioeconomic factors, and travel patterns in Britain” Environment and Planning B, 28(4), 499-528.

Tetlow J., Goss A. (1965) Homes, Towns and Traffic, London, Faber & Faber.

Timmermans H. (2003) “The Saga of Integrated Land Use-Transport Modeling: How Many More Dreams Before We Wake Up?” Keynote paper, Moving through nets: The Physical and social dimension of travel, 10th International Conference on Travel Behaviour Research, Lucerna, www.ivt.baug.ethz.ch/allgemein/pdf/timmermans.pdf.

Wang L., Lo L. (2007) “Immigrant grocery-shopping behaviour: ethnic identity versus accessibility” Environment and Planning A, 39(3),


Wegener M., Fürst F. (1999) “Land-Use Transport Interaction: State of the Art”, research report of the TRANSLAND European project,

Institut für Raumplanung (IRPUD), http://www.raumplanung.uni-dortmund.de/irpud/pubdetails/viewpublication/Berichte/046/.

How to Cite
Vitale BrovaroneE. (2010). Urban planning and mobility styles: more than a relation. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.6092/1970-9870/135