Source: adapted from S. Hanson (1995).
Destination for Work-Related Movements in the United States
In urban areas, the spatial pattern of movements can be divided in five major spatial categories:
  • Inside the central city. These movements are usually serviced by high-density public transport systems such as subways, tramways and buses. They used to by the dominant pattern of urban mobility, but this primacy has rescinded with suburbanization.
  • Towards the central area. Represents the classic pendular commuting pattern and is mostly linked to the tertiary and quaternary activities generally located in the central area. Cars are most of the time a privileged mode, but transit is used along major corridors, particularly if the parking situation is limited. With the significant growth of economic activities outside central areas, this type of movement is less important than it used to be.
  • Towards suburbia. Mostly linked with commuters living in central areas and having seen their jobs relocated in suburbia.
  • Within suburbia (Lateral). With the demographic and economic development of suburbia, this type of movement takes a growing importance. Since, suburban areas are generally of lower density (with the exception of commercial clusters), transit systems cannot effectively service these areas. They are almost strictly the domain of the automobile and involve movements from the suburbs towards small to medium-sized employment centers, particularly around highways.
  • Exurbia. The emergence of economic activities in peri-urban areas (exurbia) has added a new dimension to urban mobility. These movements concern sparsely settled residential areas and employment centers loosely organized around clusters.
The above figure is illustrative of the United States and the proportions are generic since they will vary by metropolitan areas.