Regional accessibility, or regional access to destinations, represents the ease with which destinations (e.g., shopping) can be reached throughout a region. See Local Accessibility for access to destinations at a neighborhood scale.
Increasing regional accessibility can be accomplished through a variety of other strategies, including diversifying land uses, improving transit service, and improving the jobs-housing balance within the region.
Regional access to destinations has the largest influence on vehicle miles traveled (VMT) among commonly examined built environment variables, and therefore, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Regional accessibility has been measured in different ways, such as residents' distance from downtown or access to jobs by automobile. No matter how regional accessibility is measured, an increase in regional accessibility decreases VMT. However, studies measuring the distance to downtown show the highest impact. This finding underscores the need for additional housing within close-in neighborhoods (Stevens, 2017, paywall). As with all land use strategies (e.g., residential density), combining multiple land use strategies is likely to produce a stronger influence on travel behavior.
Increasing regional accessibility through infill development and/or containing sprawl also preserves open space and reduces infrastructure costs. Investments in transit service may improve regional access to destinations.
Equity and Inclusion
Regional accessibility can be improved through either an improvement in transportation infrastructure (e.g., new transit line) or through a change in the distribution of land uses. Note that strategies that involve changes to the built environment may increase the attractiveness of an area. An increased demand for housing may result in increased property values or rents and could lead to involuntary displacement if appropriate mitigation strategies are not put into place. The lessons learned from anti-displacement efforts in several cities can be found in this PolicyLink report. Practitioners can evaluate the risk of displacement through the methods described by Chapple et al. (2017) or Bates (2013).
Guides & Reports