Does the pedestrian environment affect the utility of walking? A case of path choice in downtown Boston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


There is a lack of consensus as to whether the relationship between the built environment and travel is causal and, if it is, the extent of this causality. This problem is largely caused by inappropriate research designs adopted in many studies. This paper proposes a new method (based on path choice) to investigate the causal effect of the pedestrian environment on the utility of walking. Specifically, the paper examines how the pedestrian environment affects subway commuters' egress path choice from a station to their workplaces in downtown Boston. The path-based measure is sensitive enough to capture minor differences in the environment experienced by pedestrians. More importantly, path choice is less likely to correlate with job and housing location choices, and therefore largely avoids the self-selection problem. The results suggest that the pedestrian environment can significantly affect a person's walking experience and the utility of walking along a path.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-352
Number of pages10
JournalTransportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2009



  • Causality
  • Path choice
  • Pedestrian environment
  • Research design
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Environmental Science(all)

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