Urban sprawl and excessive car use are two critical threats for the sustainability of contemporary cities. Two main planning approaches have so far been proposed to address these phenomena: The “New Urbanism” and the “Compact City”. One of the main criteria was their environmental effectiveness, especially on transport. Thus, a considerable number of studies focused on the relationship between urban form and travel choices. The main difference is that in US the focus was mainly on the relation between urban micro-scale characteristics (road network structure, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, urban furniture, density at the neighbourhood level, local accessibility) and travel behaviour, while in Europe most studies focused on urban macro-scale (city density, distance to center, land use mix). The paradox, however, is that although policies and plans at both scales (micro-US, macro-Europe) have been promoted, the phenomena continue to expand on both continents. Could the interventions in only one spatial level lead to significant changes of travel behaviour? Should the interventions be directed towards both spatial levels simultaneously? What is the optimal mix between urban micro- and macro- scale policies for a sustainable urban perspective? Which are the parameters that affect this ideal balance of planning policies? The proposed research will investigate through quantitative and qualitative methods the effects of urban macro- and micro- scale characteristics on travel behaviour in different urban environments (Europe and US) focusing on the structural relationships between the two spatial levels. To investigate this relationship, a new critical parameter is introduced: the action space of the alternative means. In a second level the aim is to translate these relationships into integrated urban and transport policies scenarios, to evaluate them in terms of environmental efficiency and finally identify optimal policy scenarios of spatial development.
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