Does compact development make people drive less?

TitleDoes compact development make people drive less?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsStevens, M
JournalJournal of the American Planning Association
Keywordscompact development, meta-regression analysis, publication bias Additional aut, residential self-selection, vehicle miles traveled (VMT)

Problem, research strategy, and findings: Planners commonly recommend compact development in part as a way of getting people to drive less, with the idea that less driving will lead to more sustainable communities. Planners base their recommendations on a substantial body of research that examines the impact of compact development on driving. Different studies, however, have found different outcomes: Some studies find that compact development causes people to drive less, while other studies do not. I use meta-regression analysis to a) explain why different studies on driving and compact development yield different results, and b) combine different findings from many studies into reliable statistics that can better inform planning practice. I address the following questions: Does compact development make people drive less, and if so, how much less? I find that compact development does make people drive less, because most of the compact development features I study have a statistically significant negative influence on driving. The impact, however, is fairly small: Compact development features do not appear to have much influence on driving. My findings are limited to some extent because they are derived from small sample sizes.