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Investigating the association between population density and travel patterns in Indian cities-An analysis of 2011 census data.

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Mohan, Dinesh 


Many transport planners consider urban population density to be a significant determinant of travel behaviour. Much of the evidence for this comes from research in low-density, high-income settings. The 2011 Census of India reported mode of travel to work and distance for the first time. We have used these data to investigate the effect of urban density on commute travel patterns at city-level for Indian cities. In addition, we investigated the relationship between travel behaviour and other city-level variables. Using regression, we found almost no independent effect of density on the mode share of walk, cycle, motorised two-wheelers, cars and public transport, after controlling for population and income levels for the cities. Further, it appears that once density levels are greater than ~80 persons per hectare (pph), other factors become more important in determining travel patterns in cities. This evidence has significant implications for urban planning and transport policy in Indian cities and for many other low- and middle-income cities where average density tends to be higher than ~80 pph. For these cities, growth in the use of sustainable transport may not depend on further densification of already dense cities, but on details of how neighbourhoods and streets are designed.



44 Human Society, 4406 Human Geography, 33 Built Environment and Design, 3304 Urban and Regional Planning, 3.2 Interventions to alter physical and biological environmental risks, 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

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Elsevier BV
Medical Research Council (MR/K023187/1)
Medical Research Council (MR/P024408/1)
RG’s work was undertaken under the auspices of the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence funded by the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Wellcome Trust (MR/K023187/1). RG’s contribution was also supported by TIGTHAT, an MRC Global Challenges Project MR/P024408/1.