The impacts of job and household decentralization on commuting

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					Informationen zur Raumentwicklung
Heft 2/3.2007                                                                                                                149

The impacts of job and household                                                                    Petter Næss

decentralization on commuting distances
and travel modes
Experiences from the Copenhagen region and other
Nordic urban areas

1 Introduction                                    decentralization is the inevitable outcome
                                                  of the expressed location preferences of
The main topic of this article is the in-         people and firms. According to Sieverts 4,        Studies in Copenhagen
fluence of urban sprawl on commuting              new development in German urban regions           Metropolitan area as
distances and modes of travel. This is an         typically takes place in the “Zwischenland”,      well as a number of
issue much debated in the urban planning          i. e. in the areas between the cities, and        other cities show longer
literature. In particular, this discussion has    not within or immediately adjacent to the         commuting distances
been vivid as objectives of environmentally       cities. In Sieverts’ view, cities can no longer   and higher propensity
sustainable mobility appeared on planners’        be fitted into a hierarchic system according      of cummuting by car
agenda in the wake of the report from the         to central place theory. Instead, they should     among residents of
World Commission on Environment and               be understood as a network of nodes,              peripheral parts of the
Development 1. More recently, the Kyoto           where there is a spatially more or less equal,    urban areas than among
protocol implies an obligation for the            scattered distribution of labor with spatial-     inner-city dwellers …
European Union to reduce greenhouse gas           functional specializations. Such net-shaped
emissions by 8 % within 2010, compared            cities or city regions have polycentric
to the 1990 level. The internally agreed          instead of monocentric or hierarchic center
distribution of emissions between EU              structures, and constitute larger, fragmented
countries implies that some countries, such       and very complex territories.
as Denmark and Germany, are obliged to
                                                  If nothing can be done to counteract the
reduce their emissions by more than 20
                                                  decentralization of jobs and households,
per cent. Obtaining these objectives may
                                                  then knowledge about the transport con-
prove difficult unless current trends within
                                                  sequences of this decentralization will be
the transportation sector are changed
                                                  of limited policy relevance. However, actual
dramatically. For example, based on current
                                                  urban developmental trends in Europe
transport policies, the emissions from the
                                                  are far more nuanced than what has been
transportation sector will make up 32 % of
                                                  claimed by the most “decentralization-
the internationally agreed limit for the total,
                                                  deterministic” debaters.
national CO2 emissions in Denmark in 2010,
compared to 21 % in 1997.2                        Empirical data show that population
                                                  densities were reduced between 1980 and
                                                  1990 in a number of large European cities.5
2 Are cities doomed to sprawl?                    Similarly, in a study carried out by the UN/
                                                  ECE Human Settlements Division in 1998 6,
The focus of planners on the role of urban        urban sprawl is characterized as a dominant
developmental patterns in influencing the         trend. However, urban development in
amount of transport and the distribution          recent years differs considerably across
between different means of conveyance             European national borders. In some coun-
rests on the assumption that it is possible       tries, like Sweden and Norway, a long
to channel development to the types of            period of spatial urban expansion since
areas identified as favorable, given a goal       the 1950s has been succeeded by a trend
of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions          of reurbanization during the latest couple
and other negative environmental impacts          of decades.7 A considerable renewal of
from urban motoring. However, according           older housing areas and transformation of         Petter Næss
                                                                                                    Aalborg University
to several authors, metropolitan-level de-        derelict and underutilized industrial and
                                                                                                    Fibigerstraede 13
centralization of workplaces and residences       harbor areas has taken place, resulting           9220 Aalborg
is a strong and more or less general tendency     in a substantial growth in the number of          Denmark
in Europe. For example, Breheny 3 holds that      workplaces and dwellings in inner-city            E-Mail:
      Petter Næss: The impacts of job and household decentralization on commuting distances
150   and travel modes

      areas. During the period 2000-2005, the          rather than being genuinely polycentric.
      average density of all Norwegian urban           Most European cities still have a higher
      settlements has increased, in particular         concentration of workplaces, retail, public
      in the largest cities.8 In Oslo Metropolitan     agencies, cultural events and leisure
      Area, with a total population of approx.         facilities in the historical urban center and
      840,000 inhabitants, the population of the       its immediate surroundings than in the
      core municipality (the municipality of Oslo)     peripheral parts of the urban area.12 For
      has increased from 447,000 to 552,000 since      example, in Copenhagen Metropolitan
      1985, with virtually no spatial expansion of     Area, the inner city of Copenhagen has
      the urban area.                                  an unchallenged status as the dominating
                                                       center of the city region. The central
      The densification tendency of some Nordic
                                                       municipalities      of    Copenhagen      and
      countries is contrasted by the urban
                                                       Frederiksberg, making up only 3.4 % of the
      development currently taking place in the
                                                       area of Copenhagen Metropolitan Area,
      post-communist East European countries,
                                                       have one third of the inhabitants and an
      where urban sprawl is proceeding “at a pace
                                                       even higher proportion of the workplaces.13
      which leaves anything experienced in the
                                                       The conception of contemporary cities as
      west far behind” 9. In other EU countries,
                                                       polycentric and net-shaped regions with no
      including Denmark, Spain and the UK,
                                                       clear center hierarchies does not fit with the
      there is also a spatial expansion of cities.
                                                       general situation in European metropolitan
      However, in these countries the tendency
                                                       areas, but describes at most a trend apparent
      of sprawl is more moderate and combined
                                                       in certain regions.
      with considerable inner-city regeneration
      and densification.10 The growth of urban
      area in Danish cities dropped from 49            3 The influence of residential
      square kilometers annually in the period           and workplace location on
      1965-1982 to 30 square kilometers annually
                                                         commuting: the case of
      during the following 13 years. During the
                                                         Copenhagen Metropolitan Area
      latest decade, the conversion of non-urban
      land into built-up areas has increased to a
                                                       A comprehensive study of land use and
      somewhat higher level again in Denmark.11
                                                       travel in Copenhagen Metropolitan Area
      As can be seen, current urban development        will be used as our main case. After a
      appears to follow different trajectories in      presentation and discussion of the findings
      different parts of Europe, depending on,         of this study, the Copenhagen results will
      among others, economic driving forces,           be compared to the results of other, less
      cultural trends and political priorities. The    detailed studies from Nordic countries.
      fact that sprawl is not the inevitable and
                                                       In a North European context, Copenhagen
      universal trend which some authors have
                                                       Metropolitan Area is a major city region
      claimed it to be, implies that there is scope
                                                       of about 1.8 million inhabitants, with a
      for choice between different land use policy
                                                       concentration of workplaces and service
                                                       facilities in the City of Copenhagen, but also
      Planners’ assumptions about the role of jobs     with several secondary and local centers in
      and housing decentralization in influencing      the suburbs. The city has a well-developed
      traveling patterns in urban regions also rests   public transport system with a network of
      with the assumption that there are actually      urban rail lines as its backbone, along with
      some centers from which workplaces and           several major arterial and ring roads.
      residents can be decentralized (or toward
                                                       In important ways the Copenhagen
      which they can be centralized, it such a
                                                       Metropolitan Area study goes beyond the
      strategy is found to be more favorable). As
                                                       scope of previous investigations into the
      mentioned above, Sieverts describes urban
                                                       relationships between urban land use and
      regions as being more or less without any
                                                       travel. In this article, only a brief account
      clear centers any longer. However, even the
                                                       of the methodology of the study will be
      European regions where decentralization of
                                                       presented. More detailed information
      workplaces and residences is a dominant
                                                       about the methods is available in an
      tendency are characterized by a hierarchical
                                                       English-language book as well as in other
      intra-metropolitan structure with a main
                                                       journal articles.14 The study includes a
      center and several lower-order centers,
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Heft 2/3.2007                                                                                                                                                151

large travel survey among inhabitants           Residential location
of 29 residential areas, a more detailed        Figure 1 shows average trip lengths for
travel diary investigation among some of        journeys to work among respondents living
the participants of the first survey, and       within different distance intervals from
qualitative interviews with 17 households.      downtown Copenhagen. The commuting
Most of the questions about travel behavior     distances have been measured accurately
focused on a specific investigation period      along the road network between the
(one week in the main survey and four           residential and workplace addresses of
days in the travel diary investigation). In     workforce-participating        respondents.
addition, respondents who had moved             Residents of the outer parts of Greater
during the latest five years were asked         Copenhagen have on average two and a
about any changes in travel behavior,           half times as long journeys to work as those
activity participation and car ownership        living less than 6 km away from the city
after moving from their previous residential    center.
address. The travel activities investigated     The strong relationship between residential
included commuting as well as other travel      location and commuting distances holds
purposes. Specified information about           true also when controlling for demographic,
the commutes was recorded, and the              socioeconomic and attitudinal variables.15
data are therefore well suited to illustrate    Table 1 shows the ten variables which,
the influence of residential location on        according to our material, influence com-
commuting patterns. Differences between         muting distances with effects satisfying a
population groups in the way urban              significance level (p value) of 0,15. Three
structure affects travel behavior have also     of the ten variables are urban structural
been investigated, as well as changes after     characteristics. The distance between the
moving from one residence to another.           dwelling and the jobsite tends to increase
Both surveys and all interviews were            the further away the residence is located
carried out during the period from June         from downtown Copenhagen16 as well
to September 2001. In the first survey,         as from the closest second-order urban
we received completed questionnaires            center and the closest urban rail station.17
from 1.932 individuals. In the travel diary     The location of the residence relative to
investigation, 273 persons responded.           downtown Copenhagen is the factor exerting
The samples of the two surveys must be          the strongest influence of all variables on
considered fairly well representative for       the distance between the residence and
the inhabitants of the Copenhagen area          the workplace (Beta=0.327, p=0,000). The
and the selected residential areas. The         effects of the distances from the dwelling to
qualitative interviews were (apart from one     the closest second-order urban center and
single case) conducted in the homes of          the closest urban rail station are weaker
the interviewees, usually lasting between       (Beta=0,069 and 0.052, respectively, with
1½ and 2 hours. All interviews were tape-       p-values of 0.047 and 0.128).
recorded and subsequently transcribed in
their entirety. The interviews were semi-
structured, focusing on the interviewees‘                                                                                            Figure 1
reasons for choosing activities and their                                          20                                                Mean trip length for jour-
locations, travel modes and routes, the                                                                                              neys to work among respon-
meaning attached to living in or visiting                                                                                            dents living within different
                                                 One-way commuting distance (km)

                                                                                                                                     distance intervals from
various parts of the city, and any changes                                         15
                                                                                                                                     downtown Copenhagen
in traveling patterns, activity participation                                                                                        (n=1 205, p=0.000)
and car ownership compared to previous
places of residence.

3.1 Commuting distances                                                             5

Below, we shall first focus on the ways in
which commuting distances are influenced
by the urban structural situation of the                                                below 8     6-15        15-28      over 28
dwelling. Thereupon, the influence of                                                    Distance from the residence to downtown
                                                                                                     Copenhagen (km)
workplace location will be addressed.
                                  Petter Næss: The impacts of job and household decentralization on commuting distances
152                               and travel modes

                      Table 1
                                                                                           Unstandardized         Standardized      Level of
 Results from a multivariate                                                                 coefficients          coefficient   significance
  analysis of the influences                                                                                                       (p value)
  from various independent                                                                 B         Std. error      Beta
      variables on the daily
        one-way commuting          Location of the residence relative to downtown        3.326         0.351         0.327          0.000
distance (km) of workforce-        Copenhagen (non-linear distance function, values
  participation respondents        ranging from 0.66 to 3.80)

(Only variables with a level of    Sex (female = 1, male = 0)                            - 2.598       0.767         -0.102         0.001
          significance of 0.15
                                   Number of household members aged 7 - 17               - 1.384       0.488         -0.087         0.005
       or lower are included;
  n=1 026 respondents from         Has moved to the present dwelling less than 5 years   2.139         0.770         0.080          0.006
       29 residential areas in     ago (yes = 1, no = 0)
   Copenhagen Metropolitan         Personal annual income (1000 DKK)                     0.0044        0.018         0.076          0.017
   Area; adjusted R2=0.203)
                                   Logarithm of the distance (meters) from the           2.452         1.296         0.069          0.059
                                   residence to the closest urban rail station
                                   (log values ranging from 1.90 to 4.47)

                                   Age (deviation from being „middle-aged“,              -2.635        1.330         -0.063         0.048
                                   logarithmically measured)

                                   Index for transport attitudes (high value = car-      0.127         0.066         0.057          0.055
                                   oriented attitudes, values ranging from -17 to 11)

                                   Logarithm of the distance (meters) from the           1.239         0.814         0.052          0.128
                                   residence to the closest second-order urban
                                   center (log values ranging from 2.49 to 4.46)

                                   Long technical or economic education                  1.948         1.117         0.051          0.082
                                   (yes = 1, no = 0)

                                   Constant                                              - 4.495       4.472                        0.315

                                  None of the effects of the three urban                       specialized jobs and/or lowest possibilities
                                  structural variables is surprising. The                      of making long journeys to work.
                                  tendency to increasing commuting dis-
                                                                                               A number of previous investigations have
                                  tances, the further away from downtown
                                                                                               shown that women more often than men
                                  Copenhagen the residence is located
                                                                                               combine a low degree of professional
                                  reflects the location of a large proportion of
                                                                                               specialization with non-access to a car for
                                  the workplaces of the metropolitan area in
                                                                                               daily use 18 and hence have lower average
                                  the inner and central parts of Copenhagen.
                                                                                               commuting distances. The impact of sex is
                                  To some extent, the commuting distances
                                                                                               therefore in line with our expectations. The
                                  to outer-suburban workplaces too will
                                                                                               same applies to the effect of schoolchildren
                                  increase if the dwelling is situated far away
                                                                                               in the household, where childcare and
                                  from downtown Copenhagen. This will be
                                                                                               activities together with the children may
                                  the case for residents living in a different
                                                                                               put constraints on the parents’ opportunity
                                  suburban sector (e. g. in the North) from
                                                                                               to spend time on long daily commutes.19 A
                                  the sector in which the workplace is located
                                                                                               high income, on the other hand, enables
                                  (e. g. the Køge bay corridor).
                                                                                               respondents to spend more money on
                                  The second-order urban centers also                          traveling and thus increases the respondents’
                                  contain a number of workplaces, attracting                   general radius of action, including the
                                  employees both from a local and regional                     possibility of choosing workplaces and
                                  catchment area. Some of those who live                       residences spaced a long distance apart.
                                  close to such a center may therefore find                    The effect of income may also be due to the
                                  suitable jobs close to their residence. The                  choice of some respondents to accept longer
                                  effect of the distance to the closest urban                  commuting distances in order to obtain the
                                  rail station probably reflects the fact that                 most well-paid employment. The longer
                                  the immediate surroundings of urban rail                     average commutes among respondents
                                  stations often contain a number of local                     who have moved relatively recently to their
                                  service facilities and in many cases also a                  present dwelling reflects the fact that many
                                  broader supply of workplaces. This local                     other criteria are often considered more
                                  supply of workplaces will presumably                         important than proximity to the workplace
                                  be of a high importance to those groups                      when people move to a new residence. After
                                  of workforce participants with the least                     the move, some people may try to find a
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Heft 2/3.2007                                                                                                                                                                              153

job closer to the new residence, but since                                                                                                                        Figure 2
this can take some time, the likelihood of
                                                                                                   25                                                             Average, expected one-way
                                                                                                                                                                  commuting distance (km)

                                                        Expected one-way commuting distance (km)
living far away from the workplace is higher                                                                                                                      among workforce participants
among recent movers than among those                                                               20
                                                                                                                                                                  living in each of the 29 in-
who have lived in their present dwelling                                                                                                                          vestigated areas, based on
for several years. The effects of the three                                                        15                                                             the respondents’ actual
                                                                                                                                                                  values on each of the three
remaining non-urban-structural variables                                                                                                                          urban structural variables of
are also in line with expectations. Middle-                                                        10                                                             the regression model, and
aged respondents with high technical or                                                                                                                           with all other independent
economic education and car-oriented                                                                                                                               variables kept constant at
                                                                                                                                                                  mean values
attitudes tend to be more able and willing                                                                                                                        (n=1 026, p=0.000)
than other respondents to commute a long                                                            0
                                                                                                        0      10     20      30     40     50      60       70
Keeping non-urban-structural variables                                                                      Distance from the residential area to downtown
                                                                                                                          Copenhagen (km)
constant at mean variables, the average
distance between the home and the
workplace is 16 km longer among the                    The above results are in line with the
respondents of the two most remote                     information given by the participants of the
investigated areas (Gilleleje and Haslev) than         qualitative interviews. Those interviewees
among the respondents of the inner-city                who had moved to a more peripheral
area of Vesterbro (Fig. 2). This differential is       dwelling had most often experienced
larger than the bivariate difference between           increased commuting distances, while the
residential areas in the respective distances          opposite was the case for those who had
from downtown Copenhagen (14 km).                      moved inward. The answers to retrospective
Similarly, a separate analysis among the               questions in the travel surveys about
proportion of our respondents who are                  changes in the amount of travel due to
students/pupils shows that the distance                moving show a similar pattern: although
between the residence and the place of                 many respondents, in particular among
education increases clearly, the further away          those who had changed their distance
from downtown Copenhagen the dwelling                  from downtown only marginally, have
is situated. In spite of the quite small size          experienced no significant change in the
of this sub-sample (n=124), the effect                 amount of travel, there was a clear tendency
has a high degree of statistical certainty             to increasing amounts of transport when
(p=0.000).                                             moving outwards and decreasing when
                                                       moving closer to the city center.

                                                                                                                                                                  Figure 3
                                                                                                                                                                  Spatial distribution of
                                                                                                                                                                  respondents’ workplaces
                                                                                                                                                                  (n=1 319 workforce
                                                                                                                                                                  participants among 1 932
                                                                                                                                                                  respondents participating in
                                                                                                                                                                  the main survey)

North eastern part of Zealand (1 : 750 000)        Inner part of the Copenhagen area (1 : 150 000)
                                Petter Næss: The impacts of job and household decentralization on commuting distances
154                             and travel modes

                                The look at the spatial distribution of the               the difference is enormous, ranging from
                                respondents’ workplaces illustrates why we                more than 300 workplaces and places of
                                find such large differences in commuting                  education per 10 square kilometer in the
                                distances between respondents living in                   inner ring (i. e. up to 1 km from the City Hall
                                the central and peripheral parts of the                   Square), 20 in the distance belt from 5 to
                                urban region. In Figure 3, the map to the                 6 km, and lower than 1 in all distance belts
                                left includes the whole north eastern part                from 16 km and outward.
                                of the Zealand, whereas the right part of
                                                                                          Needless to say, the distances to these
                                the figure zooms in on the inner part of the
                                                                                          centrally located trip destinations will be
                                Copenhagen area. Although a considerable
                                                                                          longer if you live in the peripheral parts of the
                                number of respondents work in semi-
                                                                                          metropolitan area than if you live in one of
                                peripheral and outer parts of the region,
                                                                                          the two central municipalities (Copenhagen
                                in particular in the sub-regional centers
                                                                                          and Frederiksberg). An important part of the
                                of Hillerød, Roskilde, Køge and Tåstrup,
                                                                                          explanation of the geographical differences
                                the main concentration of respondents’
                                                                                          in the respondents’ amounts of travel
                                workplaces is clearly in the inner and
                                                                                          shown in the previous sections probably
                                central parts of Greater Copenhagen.
                                                                                          lies in these circumstances.
                                In Figure 4, the respondents’ workplaces and
                                                                                          Even though the dwellings in the metro-
                                places of education have been distributed
                                                                                          politan area also show a higher concentra-
                                according to their distances from downtown
                                                                                          tion in the inner parts, this concentration
                                Copenhagen. The figure shows the number
                                                                                          is stronger for the respondents’ workplaces
                                as well as the density of respondents with
                                                                                          than for their residences. Whereas 26 %
                                workplace/place of education within con-
                                                                                          of our working respondents live within
                                centric, 1 km wide belts around the center
                                                                                          6 km from downtown Copenhagen, 39 %
                                of Copenhagen. In spite of the fact that
                                                                                          of the respondents’ workplaces are located
                                the inner belts cover areas of a far less size
                                                                                          within this zone.20 If respondents working
                                than the outer belts, more than one sixth
                                                                                          more than 70 km away from downtown
                                of the respondents’ workplaces and places
                                                                                          Copenhagen are excluded (a delimitation
                                of education are located within the two
                                                                                          which seems reasonable, given the fact
                                innermost kilometer belts, and one half
                                                                                          that none of the respondents’ dwellings is
                                is located less then 10 km from the city
                                                                                          located more peripherally than that), the
                                center. If we instead consider the density
                                                                                          respondents on average live 19.5 km away
                                of respondents’ workplaces and places
                                                                                          from the city center of Copenhagen, whereas
                                of education (which is more reasonable
                                                                                          their workplaces are on average situated
                                since what we want to compare is the
                                                                                          15 km from downtown. The corresponding
                                concentration of such trip destinations),
                                                                                          median values are 15 km and 10 km,
                                                                                          respectively. Two thirds of the respondents
                                                                                          work closer to downtown Copenhagen
                     Figure 4                                                             than where they live, while only one third
    Number and density of                                                                 work more peripherally than their place of
  respondents’ workplaces                                          number of
   and places of education                                         respondents            residence.
                                 300                               with workplace
       in different kilometer                                      in each km-belt
  intervals from downtown                                                                 Workplace location
                                                                   density of
                Copenhagen                                         respondents
     Number of respondents                                         with workplace
                                                                   in each km-belt        Whereas we find a clear impact on com-
  with workplace or place of     200                                                      muting distances from the location of the
 education within concentric
                                                                                          dwelling relative to downtown Copenha-
        1 km wide belts, and
      density of respondents                                                              gen, the impact of the distance from the
  with workplace or place of                                                              workplace to downtown is less clear. Simi-
      education (number per                                                               lar to Figure 3, Figure 5 shows average com-
  10 km2) within these belts;
                                                                                          muting distances among employees work-
                     n=1 310
                                                                                          ing at workplaces located within different
                                   0                                                      distance belts from downtown Copenha-
                                                                                          gen. 21 Employees at inner-city workplaces
                                       1     11   21    31    41      51     61      71
                                                                                          have on average somewhat shorter journeys
                                       Distance of the kilometer belt from downtown
                                                     Copenhagen (km)                      to work than their outer-area counterparts,
                                                                                          except for the outermost distance belt,
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Heft 2/3.2007                                                                                                                                                             155

where the average commute drops to a lev-                                                                                                   Figure 5
el slightly below that of the most central of                                        20                                                     Mean trip length for journeys
                                                                                                                                            to work among respondents
the distance belts (12.6 km, 14.2 km, 14.7 km                                                                                               working within different

                                                   One-way commuting distance (km)
and 11.9 km, respectively, in the inner, sec-                                                                                               distance intervals from
ond inner, second outer and outer of the                                                                                                    downtown Copenhagen
four distance belts). It should be noted that                                                                                               (n=1 161)
the number of respondents’ workplaces is                                             10
considerably higher in the inner distance
belts than in the two outer, with nearly 40 %
of all the workplaces located in the inner-                                           5
most of the belts (cf. fig. 3, 4). Neverthe-
less, the correlation between commuting
distance and the linear distance from the                                             0
                                                                                          below 8     6-15        15-28      over 28
workplace to downtown Copenhagen is far
                                                                                           Distance from the residence to downtown
from being statistically significant (p=0.654).                                                        Copenhagen (km)

This is also true if we transform the distance
from the residence to downtown by means
of a non-linear function similar to the way       one suburb to another often start the trip
the distance from the residence to down-          taking an inward line before changing to
town Copenhagen was measured. Appar-              an outward line at a more centrally located
ently, a slight quadratic curve provides the      junction. The more coarse-meshed street
best description of the correlation between       networks in the outer areas also imply
the commuting distance and the distance           that car drivers traveling from one suburb
from the workplace to downtown Copenha-           to another suburban location must often
gen (R Square=0.008).                             first travel some distance toward the center
                                                  before they reach a relevant ring road.
Controlling for the same non-urban                Trips from a residence or workplace in one
structural variables as in Table 1, but           suburb to a random destination in another
without making any control for the location       suburb will for the above-mentioned
of the residence 22, we find a slight tendency    reasons on average be longer, the further
to reduced commuting distances among              away from downtown the residence or
respondents working at the most remote            workplace is located.24 Although not very
workplaces. This tendency is, however, not        strong, the mechanisms emerging from the
statistically significant (p=0.228).              role of downtown as a transport node and
                                                  approximate point of gravity contribute to
Discussion                                        some extent to shorter average commuting
The stronger influence on commuting               distances both among inner-city residents
distances from residential location than
from workplace location is probably due to        Table 2
the different combinations of mechanisms          The ways in which different characteristics of the urban structure influence
                                                  the relationships between commuting distances and the location of
by which the location of residences and           residences and workplaces, respectively
workplaces, respectively, influence the
distances of journeys to work (see Table 2).              Different characteristics                             Contribution to the relation-   Contribution to the relation-
Firstly, in Copenhagen Metropolitan Area                  of the urban structure of                             ship between residential        ship between workplace
                                                          Copenhagen Metropolitan                               location and commuting          location and commuting
(like many other urban regions), there                    Area:                                                 distances:                      distances:
is a higher concentration of residences
                                                          The higher concentration of                           Contributes considerably        Contributes considerably
and workplaces in the inner than in the                   workplaces and residences                             to shorter commuting            to shorter commuting dis-
outer part of the region. This contributes                in the inner than outer part                          distances among inner-city      tances among employees
                                                          of the metropolitan area                              dwellers                        of inner-city workplaces
considerably to shorter average commuting
distances among inner-city dwellers as                    Downtown as an appro-                                 Contributes to some extent      Contributes to some extent
well as among employees of inner-city                     ximate point of gravity for                           to shorter commuting            to shorter commuting dis-
                                                          the housing stock and                                 distances among inner-city      tances among employees
workplaces. Secondly, downtown is located                 the workplaces, and as a                              dwellers                        of inner-city workplaces
much closer to geographical point of gravity              major node in the transport
of the city’s stock of buildings than most
suburban locations are.23 Downtown is                     The more centralized loca-                            Contributes considerably        Contributes considerably to
also a major node for the public transport                tion of workplaces than of                            to shorter commuting            longer commuting distances
                                                          residences                                            distances among inner-city      among employees of inner-
lines, and transit travelers going from                                                                         dwellers                        city workplaces
                                  Petter Næss: The impacts of job and household decentralization on commuting distances
156                               and travel modes

                                  and among people working in the central                                                                 trips make up the stock of a trip chain.
                                  part of the metropolitan area. Thirdly, the                                                             Other travel purposes are then ‘hitched’
                                  workplaces of Copenhagen Metropolitan                                                                   on this stock trip, e. g. shopping groceries
                                  Area are located in a more centralized                                                                  along the route home from work. Taking
                                  pattern than what is the case for the                                                                   the more basic character of the commutes
                                  residences of the region (cf. above). This                                                              into consideration, commuting trips make
                                  creates a scarcity of jobs compared to the                                                              up two thirds of the distance traveled by
                                  number of inhabitants in the outer areas,                                                               workforce participating respondents on
                                  and a scarcity of inhabitants compared                                                                  weekdays and nearly half their total weekly
                                  to the number of jobs in the inner city.                                                                traveling distance.25
                                  As a result, a mechanism exists by which
                                  commuting distances tend to increase, the                                                               3.2 Travel modes
                                  further away from downtown the residences
                                                                                                                                          The information about travel modes is
                                  are located and the closer to downtown the
                                                                                                                                          based on the travel diary investigation,
                                  workplaces are located.
                                                                                                                                          which included a considerably lower
                                  Seen together, the above circumstances                                                                  number of respondents than the main
                                  imply that all the three mechanisms                                                                     survey. Among the 273 respondents of the
                                  mentioned      contribute     to    reduced                                                             travel diary survey, 56 were not workforce
                                  commuting distances among inner-city                                                                    participants, and another 33 were excluded
                                  residents. In comparison, only two of the                                                               from the analysis because the necessary
                                  three mechanisms contribute to shorter                                                                  information about their commutes was
                                  commuting distances among employees                                                                     missing or their workplace was located at
                                  at centrally located workplaces, and one                                                                extreme distances from their residences
                                  of these two mechanisms (the one based                                                                  (i. e. more than 70 km).
                                  on the role of downtown as a transport
                                  node and approximate point of gravity)                                                                  Residential location
                                  is arguably quite modest. On the other
                                                                                                                                          Among the remaining 184 respondents we
                                  hand, the surplus of jobs in the inner part
                                                                                                                                          find a clear tendency to higher shares of car
                                  of the region, compared to the number of
                                                                                                                                          commuting and lower shares of journeys to
                                  inhabitants, makes up a strong counteracting
                                                                                                                                          work by non-motorized modes, the further
                                  mechanism. The total influence of the three
                                                                                                                                          away from downtown Copenhagen the
                                  mechanisms is therefore that the length
                                                                                                                                          residence is located (Fig. 6). In the diagram
                                  of commuting trips varies only to a little
                                                                                                                                          to the left, car drivers and car passengers
                                  extent with the distance from downtown
                                                                                                                                          have been combined, and similarly trips
                                  Copenhagen to the workplace.
                                                                                                                                          by foot and by bike have been combined
                                  Our qualitative interviews as well as our                                                               in the figure to the right. Looking more
                                  travel diary investigation show that the daily                                                          closely at the data, we find that the
                                  commutes are the most basic and fixed trips                                                             correlations between residential location
                                  among workforce participants. Often, these                                                              and commuting mode are stronger among

                    Figure 6
                                                                                                                              proportion of cummuting trips by nonmotorized modes

 Proportions of commuting                                                 1,00                                                                                                      1,00
     trips by car (to the left,
    n=184, p=0.00) and by
                                   Proportion of cummuting trips by car

  non-motorized modes (to                                                 0,80                                                                                                      0,80
 the right, n=183, p=0.000)
 among respondents living                                                 0,60                                                                                                      0,60
   within different distance
       belts from downtown
                Copenhagen                                                0,40                                                                                                      0,40

                                                                          0,20                                                                                                      0,20

                                                                          0,00                                                                                                      0,00
                                                                                 below 8     6-15        15-28      over 28                                                                below 8     6-15        15-28      over 28
                                                                                  Distance from the residence to downtown                                                                   Distance from the residence to downtown
                                                                                              Copenhagen (km)                                                                                           Copenhagen (km)
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car drivers than among car passengers,                    significance level (p value) of 0,15. Since
and more pronounced among bicyclists                      most respondents have either commuted
than among respondents who walk to their                  entirely by car or not commuted by car at
workplace.                                                all during the investigated period, whereas
                                                          only a minority of the respondents have
The proportion of commuting trips carried
                                                          combined car with other travel modes and
out by public transport is generally lower
                                                          thus made a proportion of their commuting
than the proportions carried out by car and
                                                          trips by car, ordinal regression analysis has
by non-motorized modes (a total average
                                                          been used instead of ordinary least square
of 10 %, compared to 59 % and 29 %,
respectively, for car and walk/bike). The use
of public transport for journeys to work is               As can be seen in Table 3, the location
slightly higher among respondents living                  of the residence relative to downtown
in the central part of the region, but the                Copenhagen is the only urban structural
relationship is not statistically significant.            variable showing an effect on the propensity
Looking more closely at the various types                 of commuting by car (p=0.004). According
of public transport, we find more frequent                to our analysis, transport attitudes and car
commuting trips by bus among respondents                  ownership exert the two strongest effects.
living in the inner of the four distance belts,           In addition, our material shows increasing
while the frequency of commuting trips                    propensity of car commuting from holding
by rail varies little with the location of the            a driver’s license, a low income, and having
dwelling.                                                 a short or medium-long education as a
                                                          tradesman or industrial worker. The two
The relationships between the location
                                                          latter effects probably reflect a stronger
of the residence relative to downtown
                                                          preponderance of a “car culture” among
Copenhagen and the propensities of
                                                          blue collar workers.
commuting by car and by non-motorized
modes, respectively, hold true also when                  It should be noted that the two variables
controlling for other urban structural                    exerting the strongest effects (car ownership
characteristics of the residence and the non-             and transport attitudes) are both to some
urban-structural variables included in the                extent influenced by the location of the
analyses of commuting distances. Table 3                  residence. People who live in the inner
shows the variables which, according to                   city often feel that they can reach most
our material, influence the propensity of                 destinations without a car, and even though
commuting by car with effects satisfying a                some residents of the central part of the

                                                                                                           Table 3
                                                      Estimate     Std. error    Wald          Level of
                                                                                                           Results from a multivariate
                                                                                              (p value)    ordinal logistic analysis of
                                                                                                           the influence from various
 Threshold                                                                                                 independent variables
 Proportion of commuting trips by car = 0.00           2.569         1.449       3.144         0.076
                                                                                                           on the proportion of
                                                                                                           commuting trips by car
 Proportion of commuting trips by car = 0.20           2.619         1.450       3.266         0.071       during the investigated
 Proportion of commuting trips by car = 0.33           2.668         1.450       3.386         0.066       period (n=167, Nagelkercke
 Proportion of commuting trips by car = 0.50           3.105         1.457       4.544         0.033
 Proportion of commuting trips by car = 0.72           3.155         1.458       4.684         0.030

 Index for transport attitudes (high value = car-      0.254         0.051       24.60         0.000
 oriented attitude, values ranging from -17 to 11)
 Number of cars per adult household member             3.014         0.761       15.68         0.000
 Location of the residence relative to downtown        0.517         0.178        8.42         0.004
 Copenhagen (non-linear distance function,
 values ranging from 0.66 to 3.80)
 Possession of a driver‘s license (yes = 1, no = 0)    3.449         1.306        6.97         0.008
 Personal annual income (1000 DKK)                    -0.00326     0.00154        4.46         0.035
 Short or medium-long education as a tradesman         1.338         0.680        3.87         0.049
 or industrial worker (yes = 1, no = 0)
                                Petter Næss: The impacts of job and household decentralization on commuting distances
158                             and travel modes

                                metropolitan area may want to have a car                 by the location of the dwelling relative to
                                for recreational purposes and visiting trips,            both downtown Copenhagen (p=0.032)
                                very few inner-city households feel a need               and the closest second-order urban center
                                for owning two cars (as distinct from the                (p=0.054).28 Transport attitudes exert the
                                outer suburbs, where two-car households                  strongest effect, with lower proportions of
                                are common). Inner city residents whose                  biking or walking the more positive are the
                                neighborhoods are exposed to fumes and                   respondent’s attitudes toward car driving.
                                congestion from traffic generated elsewhere              Again, the fact that transport attitudes
                                may also develop more negative attitudes                 are themselves influenced by residential
                                to car travel than their outer-area counter-             location should be noted. The indirect
                                parts, who usually live in much more pro-                effects of residential location via transport
                                tected neighborhoods and also often feel                 attitudes imply that the actual influence of
                                dependent on car travel to reach daily activ-            residential location on the proportion of
                                ities. Such influences of residential lcation            walk/bike commuting is somewhat higher
                                on car ownership and attitudes could be                  than indicated in Table 4.
                                observed in the qualitative interviews as
                                                                                         The lower propensity of car commuting
                                well as in the statistical material of the
                                                                                         among inner-city dwellers and their higher
                                Copenhagen Metropolitan Area study.27
                                                                                         propensity of biking or walking to the
                                The location of the residence relative to
                                                                                         workplace are in line with what could be
                                downtown Copenhagen thus exerts a cer-
                                                                                         expected from theoretical considerations.
                                tain indirect effect on the propensity of car
                                                                                         For one thing, the average commuting
                                commuting in addition to its direct effect
                                                                                         distances are shorter when living in the
                                shown in Table 3. (If car ownership and
                                                                                         central part of the urban region. Since
                                transport attitudes are omitted among the
                                                                                         traveling long distances by non-motorized
                                independent variables, the effect of resi-
                                                                                         modes is time-consuming and can make
                                dential location increases somewhat, and
                                                                                         you physically exhausted, most people
                                the level of significance improves to 0.000.)
                                                                                         consider walking and biking as relevant
                                Controlling     for   non-urban-structural               alternatives only if the destinations are
                                variables, the propensity of commuting by                relatively close. In the qualitative interviews
                                non-motorized modes (Table 4) is influenced              of the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area study,

                      Table 4
                                                                                     Estimate     Std. error     Wald          Level of
Results from a multivariate                                                                                                 significance
    ordinal logistic analysis                                                                                                 (p value)
       of the influence from
        various independent      Threshold
variables on the proportion      Proportion of commuting trips by non-motorized       -2.341        2.233        1.099         0.294
      of commuting trips by      modes = 0.00
      non-motorized modes
                                 Proportion of commuting trips by non-motorized       -2.300        2.233        1.062         0.303
     during the investigated
                                 modes = 0.33
period (n=167, Nagelkercke
                   R2=0.378)     Proportion of commuting trips by non-motorized       -2.260        2.232        1.025         0.311
                                 modes = 0.40
                                 Proportion of commuting trips by non-motorized       -1.959        2.230        0.772         0.380
                                 modes = 0.50
                                 Proportion of commuting trips by non-motorized       -1.914        2.229        0.737         0.391
                                 modes = 0.67

                                 Index for transport attitudes (high value = car-     -0.214        0.044        23.58         0.000
                                 oriented attitude, values ranging from -17 to 11)
                                 Location of the residence relative to downtown       -0.430        0.200         4.61         0.032
                                 Copenhagen (non-linear distance function, values
                                 ranging from 0.66 to 3.80)
                                 Personal annual income (1000 DKK)                   0.00297       0.00142        4.38         0.036
                                 Logarithm of the distance from the residence         -1.337        0.693         3.72         0.054
                                 to the closest second-order urban center
                                 (values ranging from 2.49 to 4.46)
                                 Regular transport of children to school or           0.886         0.583         2.32         0.128
                                 kindergarten (yes = 1, no = 0)
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some of the interviewees living in the inner-                                                             lower proportions of car commuting and
city pointed at the area within approx. five                                                              higher proportions of walking/biking
or six kilometers from downtown as the                                                                    among employees of centrally located                                                         There is also quite
“bike city” where most destinations were                                                                  workplaces (Fig. 7). The tendencies to                                                       strong evidence that a
considered to be within acceptable biking                                                                 increasing proportions of car travel and                                                     decentralized location
distance. Our statistical material also shows                                                             decreasing proportion of non-motorized                                                       of office workplaces
a clear correlation between trip lengths                                                                  commutes the more decentralized the                                                          contributes to increase
and the proportions of walk/bike travel.                                                                  workplaces are located are, however,                                                         the proportion of car
Secondly, the conditions for car travel are                                                               disturbed by unexpectedly high proportions                                                   commuters, compared
less favorable when living in the inner parts                                                             of car commuting and correspondingly low                                                     to a central workplace
of the city, where narrow streets, many                                                                   proportions of commutes by non-motorized                                                     location. The relation-
crossings, red traffic lights and a generally                                                             modes at workplaces in the second inner                                                      ship between workplace
high congestion level frustrates car drivers                                                              of the four distance belts. Looking more                                                     location and commuting
and makes the car less competitive in terms                                                               detailed at the data, we find comparatively                                                  mode is less clear for
of travel time.                                                                                           high proportions of car passengers among                                                     other types of work-
                                                                                                          the respondents working in the second                                                        places.
Multivariate analyses of the propensity of
                                                                                                          distance belt and a similar high proportion
commuting by public transport shows a
                                                                                                          of respondents who have walked to their
slight tendency to reduced use of public
                                                                                                          workplaces in the third distance belt.
transport the closer to a second-order urban
                                                                                                          Given the limited size of the sample,
center the respondent lives (p=0.073). This
                                                                                                          these particularities may well be a result
rather counter-intuitive results probably
                                                                                                          of coincidence. The correlations between
reflects the competition from non-motorized
                                                                                                          workplace location and commuting as
modes: many workplaces are located in the
                                                                                                          car driver and bicyclist, respectively, are
second-order centers (some of which are in
                                                                                                          somewhat stronger than in the analyses
the inner-city of Copenhagen, quite close
                                                                                                          where car drivers and passengers have
to the downtown area), and many of those
                                                                                                          been combined into the car commuting
who live close to such a center prefer to
                                                                                                          category and waking and biking into the
cycle or walk to the jobsite (cf. Table 4).
                                                                                                          non-motorized travel category.
Workplace location                                                                                        A closer look at the data shows that the
According to our material, the respondents’                                                               relationship between modal split and travel
modes of travel for journeys to work are less                                                             modes are curvilinear rather than linear.
influenced by the location of the workplace                                                               This is also plausible from theoretical
than by the location of the dwelling. This                                                                considerations, as congested driving
applies to car commuting as well as to                                                                    conditions and scarcity of parking space are
commuting trips by public transport or                                                                    first and foremost occurring in the central
non-motorized modes. For journeys to                                                                      part of the urban regions, whereas there is
work by car and by non-motorized modes                                                                    less difference in car accessibility between
there is still a relatively clear pattern with                                                            workplaces located in inner and outer

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Figure 7
                                                                                            Proportion of commuting trips by nonmotorized modes

                                        0,80                                                                                                      0,80                                                Proportions of commuting
                                                                                                                                                                                                      trips by car (to the left,
                                                                                                                                                                                                      n=166, p=0.048) and by
 Proportion of cummuting trips by car

                                        0,60                                                                                                      0,60                                                non-motorized modes
                                                                                                                                                                                                      (to the right, n=165, p=
                                                                                                                                                                                                      0.090) among respondents
                                                                                                                                                                                                      working within different
                                        0,40                                                                                                      0,40                                                distance belts from
                                                                                                                                                                                                      downtown Copenhagen

                                        0,20                                                                                                      0,20

                                        0,00                                                                                                      0,00
                                               below 8     6-15        15-28      over 28                                                                below 8     6-15        15-28      over 28
                                                Distance from the residence to downtown                                                                   Distance from the residence to downtown
                                                            Copenhagen (km)                                                                                           Copenhagen (km)
      Petter Næss: The impacts of job and household decentralization on commuting distances
160   and travel modes

      parts of the suburbs. Based on iterations, a   and peripherally located workplaces. This
      nonlinear transformation of the workplace’s    implies that the proportion of respondents
      distance from downtown Copenhagen              who work within acceptable walking
      was found to yield the highest correlation     or biking distance from home is higher
      with modal split 29 (Pearson’s r=0.173 for     among inner-city residents than among
      car commuting and -0.168 for commuting         employees of inner-city workplaces.
      by non-motorized modes, with p values of       Secondly, congested driving conditions
      0.026 and 0.031, respectively).                in the inner city make up a disincentive
                                                     against car commuting both for inner-city
      However, the above-mentioned correlations
                                                     residents and for employees at inner-city
      disappear when controlling for car
                                                     workplaces. However, due to shorter average
      ownership, transport attitudes and the other
                                                     trip lengths, a larger proportion of the
      socioeconomic and demographic control
                                                     commutes of inner-city residents take place
      variables. When all the control variables
                                                     within the most congested area. Among
      mentioned in endnote 15 are included in a
                                                     the employees of inner-city workplaces, a
      multivariate ordinal logistic analysis, the
                                                     majority travel through considerable non-
      relationships between workplace location
                                                     congested stretches before they reach the
      and travel mode turn out to be highly
                                                     congested central area. Actually, 69 % of the
      insignificant (p values of 0.773 and 0.684,
                                                     respondents who live less than 6 km from
      respectively, for commuting by car and
                                                     downtown also work less than 6 km from
      by walk/bike). Performing binary logistic
                                                     the city center. In comparison, only 47 %
      analyses with an exclusion of respondents
                                                     of the employees at workplaces located
      who have combined different travel modes
                                                     within 6 km from the center also live
      yields similar results.
                                                     within this distance belt.30 Thirdly, parking
      Above, the influence of residential location   facilities are often scarce in the inner city,
      on car ownership and transport attitudes       and residents who do not have a private
      was mentioned. Arguably, these variables       parking place at their disposal must often
      (along with environmental attitudes) are       park at a considerable distance from the
      also to some extent influenced by the          dwelling. This makes up a disincentive
      location of the respondents’ workplaces,       against commuting by car if other modes
      and their inclusion as control variables       are feasible alternatives. Distinct from that,
      might therefore be considered a kind of        inner-city workplaces increasingly provide
      ‘over-control’. If car ownership, transport    parking possibilities for their employees in
      attitudes and environmental attitudes are      a private garage, often at zero-cost for the
      removed from the multivariate analyses,        individual car commuter.
      the significance levels of the relationships
      between workplace location and travel
      modes are considerably improved, with p        4 Comparison with other studies
      values of 0.069 and 0.074 for commuting by
      car and walk/bike, respectively. However,      Like any study of a single case, the results
      the relationships are still relatively weak    of the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area
      and more uncertain than the corresponding      study are context-dependent. Although the
      relationships between residential location     main mechanisms influencing commuting
      and travel modes for commuting trips.          distances and travel modes will probably
                                                     be present across a wide range of cities,
      Discussion                                     the configuration and relative strength
                                                     of these mechanisms will depend on the
      The lower influence of workplace location      actual context. Let us therefore look at a
      on commuting travel modes than that            number of other Scandinavian studies in
      of residential location is probably due to     order to assess the extent to which the
      several circumstances. Firstly, the use of     findings in Copenhagen Metropolitan Area
      non-motorized modes is highly sensitive to     regarding the impacts of residential and
      trip distances (cf. above). As we have seen,   workplace location on commuting patterns
      the commuting distances are on average         can be generalized to a wider Scandinavian
      considerably shorter among inner-city than     context.
      among outer-area residents, whereas there
      is a much smaller difference in commuting      A problem for the comparison is the fact that
      distances between employees of centrally       most Scandinavian studies of relationships
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Heft 2/3.2007                                                                                       161

between residential location and travel           Longer      traveling    distances     among
have focused on the total traveling during        suburbanites have also been found in
the chosen period of investigation (usually       the Danish city of Århus (population:
varying from a couple of days to a week),         280,000) 35 and the Norwegian capital Oslo
and not specifically on commuting trips.          (population: 840,000) . According to the
However, in Copenhagen Metropolitan               three different studies36 carried out in Oslo,
Area, the differences between residents           the average daily traveling distance with
of peripheral and central areas in total          motorized modes tends to increase from
traveling distances to a high extent reflect      around 10-15 km to around 25-30 km when
differences in commuting trip lengths.            the distance between the dwelling and the
Studies where the relationship between            city center of Oslo increases from a couple
residential location and total daily or weekly    of kilometers to 15 km. Engebretsen 37 has
traveling distances has been addressed            also investigated relationships between
may therefore supplement the few studies          residential location and daily traveling
focusing specifically on commuting, when          distances in the Norwegian cities of Bergen
assessing the possibilities of generalizing       and Trondheim (populations: 215,000 and
the Copenhagen Area results.                      150,000, respectively) and found results very
                                                  similar to those in Oslo. A clear correlation
Among studies addressing relationships
                                                  between central residential location and
between workplace location and transport,
                                                  short daily traveling distances has also been
most studies have focused precisely on
                                                  found in Helsinki. 38
commuting trips, whereas other trips to
the workplaces, such as freight and trips by      In Hartoft-Nielsen’s study in Århus 39, the
visitors 31 etc. have been covered to a much      average length of commuting trips among
lesser extent. Here, we therefore have the        medium-income workforce participants
opportunity to make direct comparisons of         was found to increase from about 6 km
the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area study            close to the city center to about 20 km
with a number of other investigations.            in residential areas located 15 km from
                                                  downtown. Based on a regional-scale travel
4.1 Other studies of residential location         survey in the Oslo region in 1990, Hjorthol 40
    and travel                                    too provides data referring specifically to
                                                  commuting distances, yet with a very crude
In line with the results of the Copenhagen        classification of residential locations. Among
Metropolitan Area study, in-depth studies         residents of inner-city Oslo, the average
of residential location and transport             commuting distances of women and men
in the Danish cities of Aalborg 32 and            were 5.3 km and 4.9 km, respectively. In the
Frederikshavn 33 show a clear increase in         outer parts of the municipality of Oslo, the
daily traveling distances the further away        corresponding commuting distances were
from the city center the dwelling is located.     7.5 km and 9.4 km, and among residents of
In both these urban areas, with populations       suburbs outside the municipality of Oslo
of 160,000 and 35,000, respectively, a            11.9 km and 17.0 km, respectively.
methodology similar to the present study
was used, including travel surveys as well        Coarse-meshed data on the impacts of
as qualitative interviews. In the Frede-          residential location on commuting distances
rikshavn study, commuting distances were          are also available from Finland. In the
investigated in particular. Controlling for       larger Finnish urban areas, in particular in
socioeconomic and attitudinal variables, the      Helsinki, the average commuting distances
average one-way commuting distance was            are considerably longer among outer-area
6.5 km among Frederikshavn respondents            residents than among inhabitants of the
living at the urban fringe or in satellite        inner cities. In the inner parts of Helsinki,
settlements, compared to 2.5 km among             people live on average about 5 km away
inner-city dwellers. 34 Although statistically    from their workplace, compared to 15-
highly significant, this differential is          20 km in the outer suburbs.41
modest compared to the corresponding              The finding that outer-area residents
difference of 16 km between residents of          travel considerably more by motorized
the most remote and most central parts            modes than their inner-city counterparts
of Copenhagen Metropolitan Area. This of          is not confined to the Nordic context. Such
course reflects the very different sizes of the   relationships have also been found in Paris 42,
two cities.
      Petter Næss: The impacts of job and household decentralization on commuting distances
162   and travel modes

      London 43, New York and Melbourne 44, San         distance by car, with public transport and
      Francisco 45, Dutch urban regions 46 and          walk/bike accounting for roughly 15 % each.
      British cities47 and Hangzhou Metropolitan        In Oslo, a clear center-periphery gradient of
      Area in China48. According to the latter study,   the modal split between different means
      average one-way commuting distances               of transport has been found, with higher
      tend to increase from approximately 4 km          proportions of car trips among residents of
      among inner-city residents to about 7 km          peripheral suburbs than in the inner cities.52
      when the distance from the dwelling to the        Typically, cars accounted for 60 % or more
      city center of Hangzhou exceeds 10 km. In         of the trips among residents of the outer
      these figures, control has been made for          suburbs, compared to only 25-30 % among
      similar demographic, socioeconomic and            inner-city residents. Conversely, inner-city
      attitudinal variables as in the Copenhagen        residents made about one half of their trips
      Metropolitan Area study.                          by bike or by foot, compared to only one
                                                        fourth among suburbanites (in inner as well
      Thus, there appears to be a high degree
                                                        as outer suburbs). Studies in Bergen and
      of generality about our results, indicating
                                                        Trondheim show similar tendencies.53
      that the dominating mechanisms through
      which residential location influences urban
      traveling distances (including commuting          4.2 Other studies of workplace location
      distances) are likely to be found across city         and travel
      sizes in a broad context of Scandinavian and      A previous study by Peter Hartoft-Nielsen
      European cities. Probably, this will also be      of 52 office workplaces located in different
      the case at a global scale among cities where     parts of the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area
      the mobility resources of the population are      shows slightly increasing average com-
      high. In cities where the population has a        muting distances with increasing distances
      low access to fast modes of transportation        from the workplace to downtown Copen-
      a more decentralized urban structure might        hagen.54 Among the employees of down-
      still be transport efficient. 49 The influence    town workplaces, the average commuting
      of residential location relative to downtown      distance was 18 km, compared to 24 km
      is also likely to be weaker in high-mobility      when the workplace was located 25 km away
      cities without any clear CBD, like Phoenix        from downtown. In Århus, Hartoft-Nielsen
      and Houston in the USA. Yet, even in such         found a similar tendency. 55 It should be
      cities a central location is likely to generate   noted that all the workplaces investigated
      less travel, as the point of gravity of the       by Hartoft-Nielsen are offices. Requiring
      housing stock and the stock of workplaces         relatively specialized skills, these workplaces
      in most cities is located relatively close to     recruit employees from wider catchment
      the city center. The average distance to all      areas than the workplaces represented in
      the other addresses of the city will even in      our Copenhagen Metropolitan Area study.
      a polycentric city tend to be shorter from a      This is illustrated by the fact that the
      central than from a peripheral location.          average one-way commuting distance in
                                                        Hartoft-Nielsen’s Copenhagen area study
      The influence of residential location on the
                                                        is 21 km, compared to 14 km in our study,
      modal split between car, public transport
                                                        where workplaces within a wide range
      and non-motorized modes of travel found
                                                        of white-collar and blue-collar trades
      in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area
                                                        are represented. With a lower general
      study corresponds to findings in a number
                                                        degree of specialization, the possibility to
      of other cities. In Aalborg as well as in
                                                        recruit employees locally is higher for the
      Frederikshavn, the proportion of car travel
                                                        workplaces in our study than in Hartoft-
      was found to increase with increasing
                                                        Nielsen’s study. Given a higher degree of
      distances between the residence and
                                                        decentralization of blue-collar than white-
      the city center, whereas the proportion
                                                        collar jobs in Copenhagen Metropolitan
      of walk/bike travel showed an opposite
                                                        Area 56, this may explain why the average
      tendency. 50 In Århus, Hartoft-Nielsen found
                                                        commuting distances of peripheral work-
      an almost total dominance of car travel
                                                        places are shorter in our study than in
      among respondents living more than 20 km
                                                        Hartoft-Nielsen’s investigation. A closer
      from the city center.51 Residents living five
                                                        look at our data reveals that commuting
      kilometers from the city center traveled on
                                                        distances among respondents with a high
      average approximately 70 % of their daily
                                                        education are shorter among employees of
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Heft 2/3.2007                                                                                    163

centrally located workplaces, with an average   explained by the fact that all Hartoft-
commuting distance of 10 km in the inner        Nielsen’s investigated workplaces were
distance belt, compared to 13-15 km in the      offices, whereas our study included a wide
three outer (p=0.003). Among respondents        range of trade categories, some of which
with a low education, commuting distances       typically recruiting employees from a more
are longer at centrally located workplaces,     local geographical context than what is
with average commuting distances de-            usually the case for office workplaces. This
creasing from 17 km in the inner distance       may explain why the proportions of non-
belt to 10 km in the outer of the four belts    motorized commutes are higher and the
(p=0.000).                                      proportions of car commuting lower among
                                                employees of outer-area workplaces in our
The modest overall variation in commuting
                                                study than in Hartoft-Nielsen’s investigation.
distances among employees working
                                                Actually, among our respondents with a low
at different distances from downtown
                                                education, the proportion of car commuters
Copenhagen corresponds to findings in
                                                is lowest and the proportion of walk/bike
some other Nordic cities. In Oslo, Næss
                                                commuters highest at workplaces located
& Sandberg found no clear difference in
                                                between 15 and 28 km from downtown
commuting distances between employees
                                                Copenhagen. Among our respondents
working at central and peripheral locations,
                                                with a high education, the lowest share of
except somewhat shorter commutes among
                                                car commuters and the highest share of
employees of two semi-central workplaces.57
                                                non-motorized commuting are found at
In the little Danish town of Frederikshavn,
                                                workplaces located less than 6 km from
no influence on commuting distances
                                                downtown, similar to the distribution found
was found from the distance between
                                                in Hartoft-Nilsens study of employees
the workplace and the town center.58 In
                                                at office workplaces. In the latter study,
Trondheim, Strømmen has found small
                                                no statistical control was made for other
differences between peripherally and
                                                factors influencing the modal split. The
centrally located workplaces in commuting
                                                high comparability of the investigated
distances, albeit with a slight tendency
                                                workplaces in Hartoft-Nielsen’s study still
to longer commutes to jobsites on the
                                                makes it plausible that the relationship
periphery.59 A certain tendency to longer
                                                between workplace centrality and travel
commutes among employees of outer-area
                                                mode is not spurious.
workplaces has also been found in Finnish
urban areas.60                                  The lack of statistically significant
                                                relationship between workplace location
Compared to our study in Copenhagen
                                                and modal split in our multivariate analysis
Metropolitan area, some other studies
                                                with all control variables included may, as
show a stronger influence of workplace
                                                already mentioned, be a result of “over-
location on the modal split of commuting
                                                control”, as both car ownership, transport
trips. Notably, Hartoft-Nielsen’s study of 52
                                                attitudes and environmental attitudes may
offices in Copenhagen Metropolitan Area
                                                to some extent be influenced by the extent
shows that the proportion of employees
                                                to which respondents may easily reach
commuting by car tends to increase from
                                                their workplace by other modes than the
40-45 % at downtown workplaces to 80 %
                                                private car. Moreover, the low number of
when the distance between the workplace
                                                respondents in our travel diary investigation
and downtown is 30 km.61 In addition,
                                                implies that quite strong relationships are
Hartoft-Nielsen has found a clear effect
                                                required in order to obtain a high statistical
of proximity to urban rail stations. Thus,
                                                certainty. The combination of a small
among the inner-city workplaces located
                                                sample size and the influence of locally-
closest to main urban rail stations, the
                                                recruiting, low-specialized workplaces on
proportions of car commuters was only
                                                the proportion of car commuting to outer-
10-25 %. In the outer areas, proximity to a
                                                area jobs may thus explain why the levels of
junction urban rail station typically reduced
                                                significance for the relationships between
the proportion of car commuters from 75-
                                                workplace location and travel mode were
85 % to 40-60 %.62
                                                relatively weak in our study, even when
Again, the somewhat stronger center-            car ownership and attitudes were excluded
periphery gradient in Hartoft-Nielsen’s         from the independent variables.
study than in our study may possibly be
      Petter Næss: The impacts of job and household decentralization on commuting distances
164   and travel modes

      A study of workplace location and               modes. The share of the residents’ travel
      commuting in Greater Oslo shows results         carried out by public transport typically does
      similar to Hartoft-Nielsen’s Copenhagen         not differ much between inner and outer
      area study, with proportions of car             parts of the urban area. Inner-city residents
      commuting as low as 12-14 % in the very         usually have the best opportunities to
      downtown area, 40-60 per cent at a public       travel by public transport, but on the other
      transport junction 3.5 km outside the city      hand, their trip destinations are often close
      center, and 70-90 % in the outer suburbs.       enough to make walking or biking more
      The relationship between the distance           attractive alternatives than going by public
      of the workplaces from downtown and             transit.
      the modal split was still strong when
                                                      Apart from a slight tendency to increased
      controlling for a number of other factors
                                                      commuting distances among employees of
      that may influence the commuting pattern,
                                                      peripheral office workplaces, the extent to
      among others car ownership, sex and
                                                      which workplaces are located centrally or
      income.63 Studies in the Norwegian city of
                                                      peripherally within an urban region does
      Trondheim have also shown clear effects
                                                      not appear to exert any strong influence on
      on commuting modes from the location
                                                      commuting distances. There is, however,
      of the workplace relative to the city center,
                                                      quite strong evidence that a decentralized
      with proportions of car commuting around
                                                      location of office workplaces contributes to
      30-45 % in the downtown area compared
                                                      increase the proportion of car commuters,
      to around 80 % at the urban fringe some
                                                      compared to a central workplace location.
      eight kilometers away from the city center.64
                                                      The relationship between workplace
      The investigations in Trondheim include
                                                      location and commuting mode is, however,
      studies of companies that have moved
                                                      less clear for other types of workplaces.
      either from the city center to the outskirts
                                                      For workplaces with a low degree of
      or from a suburb to the downtown area.
                                                      specialization, such as warehousing,
      These before-and-after studies show clear
                                                      primary schools, kindergartens, grocery
      effects of workplace location on travel
                                                      shops and institutions for elderly people,
      modes, with an increasing proportion of
                                                      a decentralized location may well be
      car commuters after outward move and a
                                                      compatible with a high share of non-
      decreasing proportion after moving from
                                                      motorized      commuting,     since    such
      suburb to center. On the other hand, studies
                                                      workplaces will often be able to recruit a
      in the Danish cities of Århus, Odense and
                                                      high proportion of their employees locally.
      Aalborg show smaller differences between
                                                      The latter four types of service functions
      downtown and periphery in travel modes,
                                                      anyway need to be located close to the
      with car proportions typically some 20
                                                      population groups they are meant to service,
      percentage points higher at workplaces in
                                                      so any centralization in order to reduce car
      the outskirts than in the downtown area.65
                                                      commuting among the employees would
                                                      probably be many times outweighed by
      5 Concluding remarks                            increased transportation needs among
                                                      clients and customers.
      There is clear evidence from studies            The above conclusions imply that urban
      in Denmark, Norway and Finland that             sprawl is unfavorable if the aim is to reduce
      residents of peripheral parts of urban areas    car travel and emissions from transport in
      tend to commute longer distances than their     urban areas. This applies to sprawl in the
      inner-city counterparts do. This differential   form of residential decentralization as well
      in commuting distances accounts for a high      as workplace decentralization. Traditionally,
      proportion of the higher overall traveling      many urban planners have believed in
      distances found among suburbanites,             the idea of co-locating workplaces and
      compared to their counterparts living in        residences, not only in the central part
      central districts of the city. Inhabitants of   but also when developing new areas in
      the outer parts of the urban regions also       the outskirts of the city.66 Such ideas of
      have a higher propensity of commuting by        “mixed-use development” might imply
      car than those who live close to the city       the relocation of a number of inner-city
      center. Conversely, a high proportion of the    workplaces to suburbs where there is a
      latter residents commute by non-motorized       deficit of local job opportunities. However,
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Heft 2/3.2007                                                                                  165

the higher the general mobility level grows,    that this relationship is present also when
the less are people likely to prefer local      controlling for a number of socioeconomic
jobs to more distant, but otherwise more        factors.67
attractive job alternatives. The qualitative
                                                Urban sprawl is of course not the only cause
interviews of the Copenhagen Metropolitan
                                                of the increasing commuting distances
Area study show that most interviewees
                                                currently experienced in most European
attach more importance to being able to
                                                countries. Commutes have grown longer
choose the best facility than to minimizing
                                                even in Norway and Sweden where sprawl
traveling distances. With steadily increasing
                                                has come to a halt, and in urban regions
education levels among the population and
                                                where a spatial expansion is still going on
specialization levels of jobs, the proportion
                                                (like Copenhagen Metropolitan Area), only
of the population who are able or willing to
                                                a limited proportion of the increase in
be employed at local workplaces is likely
                                                commuting distances can be attributed to
to diminish. The commuting patterns
                                                outward urban development.68 Still, land
characterizing office workplaces, where
                                                use is an important contributory factor,
the companies typically recruit employees
                                                and other measures to curb the increase in
from all over the urban region, are therefore
                                                car-based commuting will be less efficient
likely to apply to an increasing part of the
                                                and cause more negative welfare effects
workforce. Workplace decentralization will
                                                if residences and specialized workplaces
therefore probably to an increasing extent
                                                continue to decentralize.
create criss-cross commuting patterns,
and because the accessibility by car is         In order to limit the growth in commuting
generally higher and the accessibility by       distances and the use of car for commuting
public transport lower in the suburbs, such     trips, urban land use policies should aim
a development is likely to lead to increasing   at densification rather than sprawl. In
shares of car commuting.                        particular, locating a high share of new
                                                dwellings and white-collar jobs to inner
At an aggregate level, decentralization of
                                                cities is likely to contribute to lower car
workplaces as well as residences contribute
                                                usage. Such urban strategies may seem
to reduced urban densities, and hence also
                                                contrary to trends in parts of Europe,
to increased average distances between
                                                but the experience from Swedish and
the various functions of the city. Several
                                                Norwegian cities shows that reurbanization
studies – also in the Nordic countries
                                                and densification is possible within a
– have demonstrated the link between low
                                                contemporary European context.
urban density and a high energy use for
transport. The Nordic investigations show
      Petter Næss: The impacts of job and household decentralization on commuting distances
166   and travel modes

       (1)                                                         -(centafs*0.18 – 2.85))) / (EXP(centafs*0.18 – 2.85)
       World Commission on Environment and Development             + EXP( - (centafs*0.18 – 2.85))) – (0.00068*(centafs
       1987                                                        – 42)*(centafs – 42) – 2.8), where Afstfun = the
                                                                   transformed distance from the dwelling to downtown
       (2)                                                         Copenhagen and centafs = the linear distance along
       Jespersen 2000, p. 107                                      the road network, measured in kilometer. A further
       (3)                                                         account of the considerations and iterations on which
       Breheny 1995, p. 87                                         the choice of this function was based is available in
                                                                   a working paper at Aalborg University (Næss, 2001,
       (4)                                                         Danish-language only).
       Sieverts 1995
       (5)                                                         Distances to the closest second-order center and the
       Newman & Kenworthy 1999                                     closest urban rail station were measured logarithmically,
                                                                   from an assumption that the influence of a one-
       (6)                                                         kilometer increase in the distance within the relevant
       UN/ECE Human Settlements Division 1998                      distance intervals (with averages of 6.5 km and 4.4 km,
       (7)                                                         respectively) would be stronger if the distance is short
       Statistics Sweden 1992, 2002; Larsen & Saglie 1995;         at the outset than if it is already long.
       Statistics Norway 2005                                      (18)
       (8)                                                         Jørgensen 1992; Hjorthol 1998; Lee & McDonald 2003
       Statistics Norway 2005                                      (19)
       (9)                                                         cf. Hägerstrand 1970
       Schwedler 1999                                              (20)
       (10)                                                        Among our workforce-participating respondents,
       UN/ECE Human Settlements Division 1998                      18.5 % have both their residence and workplace
                                                                   within the inner distance belt (6 km from downtown
       (11)                                                        Copenhagen). 20.5 % live more than 6 km from the city
       Damsgaard & Olesen 2000                                     center but work within the inner distance belt, whereas
                                                                   8 % live within the inner distance belt and work more
       (12)                                                        than 6 km from the city center. The remaining 53 %
       cf., among others, Newman & Kenworthy 1999, p. 94-          both live and work more than 6 km from downtown.
       (13)                                                        In addition to respondents with extreme commuting
       Næss 2005                                                   distances (cf. endnote 1), five respondents whose
       (14)                                                        workplaces were located more than 70 km from
       Næss 2006a resp. 2005, 2006b and c                          downtown Copenhagen were excluded from the
       14 respondents with extreme commuting distances             (22)
       (one-way lengths ranging from 70–273 km) have been          If we had also controlled for the urban structural situation
       excluded from the analysis. The non-urban-structural        of the dwelling, the effect of workplace location would
       control variables were the following: Sex, age, number      refer to a situation where the respondents had chosen
       of household members below 7 years of age, number           residences completely independent of the locations of
       of household members aged 7–17, personal annual             their workplaces. In this hypothetical case, commuting
       income, whether the respondent holds a driver‘s             distances would tend to be significantly shorter to the
       license, number of cars per adult household member,         peripheral than to the centrally located workplaces
       whether or not the respondent has a higher education        (Beta = -0.280, p = 0.000). However, this is a highly
       within technical or economic subjects, whether or not       unrealistic scenario – and from the point of view of
       the respondent has a short or medium-long education         reducing car dependency also an undesirable one.
       as a tradesman or industrial worker, index for attitudes    (23)
       to transport issues, index for attitudes to environmental   Within many cities, the historical urban core
       issues, regular transport of children to school or          approximates the geographical point of gravity of the
       kindergarten, and whether the respondent had moved          city’s stock of buildings (Nielsen, 2002). In Copenhagen
       to the present dwelling less than five years ago.           Metropolitan Area, the downtown area is located close
       (16)                                                        to the coast and is thus unevenly surrounded by built-
       Up to a turning point at a distance of 42 km from           up areas. The point of gravity of the building stock is
       downtown Copenhagen, whereupon commuting                    therefore located a few kilometers to the west of the
       distances are slightly reduced with further increases       city center. Nevertheless, downtown is located much
       in the distance between the dwelling and downtown           closer to this point of gravity than most suburban
       Copenhagen. Downtown was defined as the City Hall           locations are.
       Square. Based on theoretical considerations as well as      (24)
       preliminary analyses of the empirical data, the location    Nielsen 2000
       of the residence relative to downtown Copenhagen
       was measured by means of a variable constructed by          (25)
       transforming the linear distance along the road network     In these figures, respondents with extreme traveling
       by means of a non-linear function. This function was        distances on weekdays and in the weekend have been
       composed of a hyperbolic tangential function and            excluded. Some of the extreme traveling distances are
       a quadratic function, calculated from the following         due to long leisure trips, but many are work-related
       equation: Afstfun = ((EXP(centafs*0.18 – 2.85)) - EXP(      (long-distance commutes or official journeys).
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Heft 2/3.2007                                                                                                       167

 (26)                                                          (43)
 Omitting respondents who have combined car with               Mogridge 1985
 other travel modes, binary logistic regression may be
 employed as an alternative method. This yields results        (44)
 very similar to the original analysis, with significant       Newman & Kenworthy 1989
 effects of all the variables of Table 3. The significance
 level of the location of the dwelling relative to downtown    (45)
 Copenhagen is slightly weaker (p=0.015) than in the           Schipper et al. 1994
 ordinal logistic analysis. Most likely, this is a result of
 a lower number of respondents (149) in the binary
                                                               Schwanen 2001
 logistic analysis.
                                                               Stead & Marshall 2001
 Næss 2006 a, b (20)
                                                               Næss 2007
 Excluding respondents who have combined walk/
 bike with motorized modes of travel, a binary logistic        (49)
 analysis shows effects on the propensity of commuting         Brotchie 1984
 by non-motorized modes from the same variables as in
 Table 4. Compared to the original analysis, the location      (50)
 of the residence relative to downtown Copenhagen has          Nielsen 2002; Næss & Jensen 2004
 a slightly stronger level of significance (p=0.019), while
 the level of significance of the distance to the closest
                                                               Hartoft-Nielsen 2001a
 second-order center is slightly weaker (p=0.080).
 Again, the reduced number of respondents in the               (52)
 binary logistic analysis should be borne in mind.             Røe 2001; Engebretsen 2005
 (29)                                                          (53)
 This curve has a turning point closer to downtown             Engebretsen 2005
 Copenhagen (28 km), compared to the curve for
 residential location (42 km). In addition, the slopes are     (54)
 gentler.                                                      Hartoft-Nielsen 2001b

 (30)                                                          (55)
 Among those respondents who both live and work                ibid.
 within 6 km from downtown, 66 % commute by
 bicycle or by foot and only 28 % by car. The average
                                                               Among our respondents, blue-collar workers work on
 commuting distance is 3.2 km among this group.
                                                               average 18 km away from downtown Copenhagen,
 (31)                                                          compared to 14 km among the remaining workforce-
 Studies of the impacts of new shopping malls on               participating respondents.
 shopping trips are a main exception.
 (32)                                                          Næss & Sandberg 1996
 Nielsen 2002
 (33)                                                          Næss & Jensen 2000
 Næss & Jensen 2004
 (34)                                                          Strømmen 2001
 Respondents commuting to other cities (mainly
 Aalborg, which is 65 km away) have been excluded
                                                               Martamo 1995
 in these figures. These deleted respondents make up
 about 15 % of all commuting respondents.                      (61)
                                                               Hartoft-Nielsen 2001b, p. 36
 Hartoft-Nielsen 2001a                                         (62)
                                                               ibid., p. 31
 Næss, Røe & Larsen 1995; Røe 2001; Engebretsen                (63)
 2005                                                          Næss & Sandberg 1996
 (37)                                                          (64)
 Engebretsen 2005                                              Strømmen 2001; Meland 2005
 (38)                                                          (65)
 Lahti 1995                                                    Hartoft-Nielsen 2001b
 (39)                                                          (66)
 Hartoft-Nielsen 2001a                                         see, e.g., Krier 1984; Danish Government 2002
 (40)                                                          (67)
 Hjorthol 1998                                                 Næss 1993; Næss, Sandberg & Røe 1996
 (41)                                                          (68)
 Martamo 1995                                                  Andersen 2000
 Mogridge 1985; Fouchier 1997
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