Date of Award

December 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Urban Studies

First Advisor

Lingqian Hu

Committee Members

Joel Rast, Robert Schneider, Courtney Coughenour


accessibility, non-work activities, spatial gaps, structural equation models, travel distance, travel mode


As people’s daily activities are diverse, having access to various opportunities is important. However, the existing body of accessibility literature places great emphasis on job accessibility; research on non-work accessibility is limited. To fill the gap, this dissertation examines accessibility to four types of non-work opportunities (healthcare, retail, recreation, and food services) by three transportation modes (automobile, transit, and walking) as well as their impacts on travel in the Milwaukee region. This dissertation examines accessibility disparities across different racial/ethnic groups and income groups in Milwaukee County by comparing weighted average accessibility and overlaying spatial distribution of accessibility with population distributions. Results suggest that disparities in non-work accessibility across different sociodemographic groups exist, and the dissertation identifies the group in the most disadvantaged position. Using structural equation models, the second part of this dissertation investigates the relationship between accessibility and travel behavior of non-work trips while controlling for neighborhood built environment characteristics, psychological factors, and socioeconomic characteristics. Results provide empirical evidence on whether accessibility affects various non-work trips differently. This dissertation finds that accessibility has significant impacts on reducing trip distance for non-work trips, and the impacts are the largest for food services, followed by healthcare and retail, and the smallest for recreation. Additionally, improvements in accessibility to food services and recreational facilities encourage non-work travel for respective trips. Findings of this dissertation have policy implications. The multi-modal accessibility indicators contribute to a comprehensive understanding of disparities in accessibility and inform planning research and practice about spatial gaps in both goods/service supply and transportation services. Additionally, the empirical analysis of the accessibility effect on travel can inform targeted mobility or land use strategies.