How far, by which route and why? A spatial analysis of pedestrian preference

  • Published: Journal of Urban Design, Vol. 13. No. 1, 81-98, 2008
  • Authors: A. Agrawal, M. Schlossberg and K. Irvin
  • Date Added: 28 Jan 2013
  • Last Update: 28 Jan 2013
  • Format: pdf


To better understand trip lengths and route choices of American pedestrians.


Surveys carried out of 328 commuters who walked to rail stations in California and Oregon.

Key Findings:

  • By far the most important factor in route choice was the shortest, fastest (or most convenient) route.

  • When asked an open-ended question, safety was the second most common response (mentioned by 28 per cent of respondents) in determining route choice. The results have been further examined to find that respondents typically do mean road safety – seeking low traffic volumes or avoiding busy intersections. Relatively few mentioned safety in the context of (fear of) crime.

  • Although only 8 per cent of people had safety as their first item on the list, it was the second item in 14 per cent of responses.

  • When presented with a closed ranking question, safety was considerably more important to respondents – having traffic devices present (85 per cent) and having traffic moving at safe speeds (87 per cent) were very or somewhat important to respondents.

Themes: route choices, safety, survey, commuters


A relatively small study, focussing on adult commuters (time bound since they were destined to catch a train) – safety still rates as the next most important concern in route choice following shortest / quickest. There is an implication that safety provision therefore does influence route selection.