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Distribution of trips by distance across the US

The US Bureau of Transportation Statistics has just published some recent data looking at average trip distances across the country. What it allows you to do is drill down to the county level and see exactly how many trips people take that are less than 1 mile, between 1-3 miles, between 3-5 miles, and so on. This is interesting, in my view, for two reasons.

One, it showcases the fact that most of our trips tend to be short ones (a trip is defined as being away from your home for more than 10 minutes). If you look at the data you’ll immediately see this, which is, of course, a pretty good argument for trying to encourage other forms of mobility besides driving.

And two, it is yet another example of how much data our mobile phones are constantly off-gassing. I mean, how do you determine where someone’s home is so that you know when they’re taking a 10 minute trip away from it? You figure out where their phone spends long periods of time (particularly at night) and you likely have that person’s home.

What would be even more interesting to see is how this data correlates with built form. In other words, to what extent are higher densities inversely correlated with trip distances? This should certainly be the case, but it would be cool to see the data.

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