Pedestrian environment and route choice: Evidence from New York City and Hong Kong

Zhan Guo, Becky P Y Loo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To better understand the relationships between walking and the environment, this study tests the feasibility of route choice modeling based on pedestrians' walking behavior. 321 pedestrians were interviewed in two urban neighborhoods (one in New York City and one in Hong Kong) to identify their actual walking routes. Then, we generated potential alternative routes using a modified labeling approach, measured the route environment through environment auditing and secondary data, estimated two multinomial probit models, and compared the results between the two neighborhoods and between the alternative choice models. It is found that route choice models based on revealed preferences could be a valid and complimentary method for assessing the pedestrian environment, and they could help to prioritize or justify investment related to pedestrian infrastructure. In contrast, contingent rating based on stated preference may overestimate the importance of more tangible attributes, such as distance and safety, because pedestrians were often unable to articulate intangible amenities, such as streetscapes and façade designs. However, route choice modeling seems to perform well only when the pedestrian system offers many route alternatives and pedestrians do have experience with multiple routes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-136
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Hong Kong
  • Multinomial probit
  • New York City
  • Pedestrian
  • Route choice
  • Walkability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • General Environmental Science


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