Geography Program (SNR)


First Advisor

Robert H. Stoddard

Date of this Version



Hill, Michael R. 1982. Spatial Structure and Decision-Making Aspects of Pedestrian Route Selection through an Urban Environment. Ph.D. dissertation. Department of Geography, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright (c) 1982 Michael R. Hill


The review of literature is hierarchically organized in terms of • the pedestrian1s ever widening spatial skills: walking, crossing streets, and choosing routes. Route choice is conceptualized as a game played upon an urban street system viewed as a graph. Completing a walk requires the sequential selection of edges from those available in the graph. Each sequence of choices is called a strategy. This study is an investigation of the characteristics of strategies employed by pedestrians in their selection of routes from one place to another. Data were collected in Lincoln, Nebraska. Two hundred pedestrians were intercepted, tracked to their destinations, and handed mail-in questionnaires which asked each subject to describe the route of the walking trip just completed. Eighty-three subjects (86% of those who returned questionnaires) responded with accurate descriptions of the tracked portions of their trips. One hundred additional pedestrians were intercepted an asked for directions to the nearest elementary school. Finally, fifty elementary school children were also individually tracked on their way home from school. Data analysis employed the following classifications and measures. Classifications for trip networks and trip types were developed. Standardized measures of spatial structure (simple-complex dimension) and route choice (freedom-determinancy dimension) were also devised. Both measures are adaptations of the formula for standardized scores (Z-scores). The following hypotheses were empirically corroborated: (1) pedestrians nearly always choose distance-minimizing routes, (2) young pedestrians select relatively more complex routes than adul ts, (3) a stranger who asks for directions generally receives structurally simple routes, and (4) adult pedestrians exhibit more complexity in their own walking routes compared to the complexity of routes given to a stranger asking for directions. It was also hypothesized (5) that women select less complex routes than men. The exact opposite was discovered. Women are experienced, knowledgeable pedestrians who often complete longer trips than men. Whether a "strategy" framework is experientially relevant to pedestrians remains an open question for future research.