Research Design Connections
Studies examine what makes subway riders walk, what makes
greenways popular, and what makes parking lots safer.
By Sally Augustin and Jean Marie Cackowski-Campbell, ASLA
Architecture, in partnership with the web-based newsletter and daily blog Research Design Connections, uses this
column to report current research of interest to landscape architects from a
wide array of disciplines. We welcome your comments, suggestions about future
topics, and studies you have encountered in your own practice.
Walk or Transfer? Boston Subway Riders Take the Path of
If a subway rider sets out for a destination, but his or her
particular train doesn’t go that far, will the rider catch another connection
to get there or leave the subway system and walk the rest of the way
Using data collected in downtown Boston, researchers Zhan
Guo and Joseph Ferreira investigated how the design of pedestrian environments
influences that decision. They discovered that pedestrians will opt to walk the
remaining distance to their destination if they like the ground-level
environment and that they will choose the more desirable walking route, even if
it’s longer than less-desirable pedestrian routes.
The researchers evaluated pedestrian environments using five
criteria: the presence of parks, coffee shops, and other pedestrian amenities;
sidewalk continuity; sidewalk convenience (how easy it is to use and get to);
open space; and topography. The researchers statistically analyzed information
from riders’ activity logs and trip surveys, combined with transit-route and
land-use information, to understand “how riders choose among multiple paths to
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