Beyond commuting: Ignoring individuals’ activity-travel patterns may lead to inaccurate assessments of their exposure to traffic congestion

Junghwan Kim, Mei-Po Kwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This research examines whether individual exposures to traffic congestion are significantly different between assessments obtained with and without considering individuals’ activity-travel patterns in addition to commuting trips. We used crowdsourced real-time traffic congestion data and the activity-travel data of 250 individuals in Los Angeles to compare these two assessments of individual exposures to traffic congestion. The results revealed that individual exposures to traffic congestion are significantly underestimated when their activity-travel patterns are ignored, which has been postulated as a manifestation of the uncertain geographic context problem (UGCoP). The results also highlighted that the probability distribution function of exposures is heavily skewed but tends to converge to its average when individuals’ activity-travel patterns are considered when compared to one obtained when those patterns are not considered, which indicates the existence of the neighborhood effect averaging problem (NEAP). Lastly, space-time visualizations of individual exposures illustrated that people’s exposures to traffic congestion vary significantly even if they live at the same residential location due to their idiosyncratic activity-travel patterns. The results corroborate the claims in previous studies that using data aggregated over areas (e.g., census tracts) or focusing only on commuting trips (and thus ignoring individuals’ activity-travel patterns) may lead to erroneous assessments of individual exposures to traffic congestion or other environmental influences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number89
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

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Keywords

  • Activity-travel patterns
  • Real-time traffic data
  • The neighborhood effect averaging problem (NEAP)
  • The uncertain geographic context problem (UGCoP)
  • Traffic congestion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

Cite this

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abstract = "This research examines whether individual exposures to traffic congestion are significantly different between assessments obtained with and without considering individuals’ activity-travel patterns in addition to commuting trips. We used crowdsourced real-time traffic congestion data and the activity-travel data of 250 individuals in Los Angeles to compare these two assessments of individual exposures to traffic congestion. The results revealed that individual exposures to traffic congestion are significantly underestimated when their activity-travel patterns are ignored, which has been postulated as a manifestation of the uncertain geographic context problem (UGCoP). The results also highlighted that the probability distribution function of exposures is heavily skewed but tends to converge to its average when individuals’ activity-travel patterns are considered when compared to one obtained when those patterns are not considered, which indicates the existence of the neighborhood effect averaging problem (NEAP). Lastly, space-time visualizations of individual exposures illustrated that people’s exposures to traffic congestion vary significantly even if they live at the same residential location due to their idiosyncratic activity-travel patterns. The results corroborate the claims in previous studies that using data aggregated over areas (e.g., census tracts) or focusing only on commuting trips (and thus ignoring individuals’ activity-travel patterns) may lead to erroneous assessments of individual exposures to traffic congestion or other environmental influences.",
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