Land Use Trends Affecting Auto Dependence in Washington's Metropolitan Areas

In order to better integrate land use and transportation planning and to implement less auto dependent land use patterns, it is useful to know where and to what extent the urban land market is producing less auto-dependent urban growth. Data on the population density, housing density, employment density, jobs-housing balance, and retail-housing balance of metropolitan cities and unincorporated places in Washington state were examined for the 1970-1990 time period. Analysis included the examination and comparison of statistical distributions and thematic maps in each decade. During the twenty year period, there was an increase in the proportion of the population living in jobs- and retail-housing balanced communities and an increase in housing densities. Meanwhile, population and employment densities declined. Density declines were attributable to falling household size, suburbanization, and the growth of very low density urban fringe developments. Distinct geographic patterns were found in density changes but changes in balance measures were less predictable. Relationships between land use variables were found and associations between both density and balance and less auto use were confirmed. It is recommended that efforts be made to promote greater density and balance in certain urban areas and that land use information be used to target communities whose land use patterns are capable of supporting greater transit use and less outcommuting.
Publication Date: 
Friday, June 30, 1995
Publication Number: 
WA-RD 380.1
Last modified: 
10/12/2016 - 15:42
Gary Pivo, Paul Hess, Abhay Thatte.
Washington State Transportation Center (TRAC)
Number of Pages: 
Automobile travel, Commuting, Distributions (Statistics), Employment, Land use, Metropolitan areas, Population density, Public transit, Ridership, Transportation planning, Urban growth.