Evaluation of Travel and the Built Environment in Small and Rural Communities

Reducing vehicle travel is a critical strategy for reducing transportation greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Achieving reductions in vehicle travel is challenging, especially in rural communities where low density and decentralized land uses contribute to vehicle dependence and long trip distances. Consequently, GHG mitigation policies that increase the cost of fuels and vehicles are likely to increase travel costs and unmet travel needs among rural populations. At the same time, the built environment is known to affect the distances that people drive, positioning changes to the built environment as a promising strategy for easing the transition to a low-carbon future. However, most research that establishes the relationship between travel and the built environment has been conducted in urban regions which differ substantially from rural regions. This leaves rural communities with little guidance about whether and how to leverage changes in the built environment to support reductions in vehicle travel as they adapt to a GHG-constrained future. This research will evaluate the relationship between travel and the built environment in rural regions. The results of this research will inform GHG mitigation and transportation and land use planning in rural regions across the US.

Research Area