Geographical Analysis (2003) 35(4): 341-353.

Individual Accessibility Revisited:
Implications for Geographical Analysis in the Twenty-First Century

Mei-Po Kwan and Joe Weber 

Abstract: Analytical methods for evaluating accessibility have been based on a spatial logic through which the impedance of distance shapes mobility and urban form through processes of locational and travel decision-making. These methods are not suitable for understanding individual experiences because of recent changes in the processes underlying contemporary urbanism and the increasing importance of information and communications technologies (ICTs) in people’s daily lives. In this paper we argue that analysis of individual accessibility can no longer ignore the complexities and opportunities brought forth by these changes. Further, we argue that the effect of distance on the spatial structure of contemporary cities and human spatial behavior has become much more complicated than what has been conceived in conventional urban models and concepts of accessibility. We suggest that the methods and measures formulated around the mid-twentieth century are becoming increasingly inadequate for grappling with the complex relationships among urban form, mobility and individual accessibility. We consider some new possibilities for modeling individual accessibility and their implications for geographical analysis in the twenty-first century.

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