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Polygon-to-Polygon Spatial Accessibility Using Different Aggregation Approaches: A Case Study of National Forests in the US Mountain West Region

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Spatial accessibility is an enduring topic of spatial analysis that is intimately tied to issues of spatial representation and scale. A variety of methods to measure accessibility have been developed with most research focusing on metropolitan-sized spatial extents using census-defined aggregation units and relying on vector point representation to calculate Euclidean or network distances as key ingredients in measure formulations. Less research considers broader scales where both origin and destination points are treated as polygons. This research develops alternative gravity-based measures of polygon-to-polygon accessibility for a case study of county-level accessibility to national forests in the western US. Different methods of county and forest representation are implemented using census block centroids and a lattice approach for disaggregation and re-aggregation. Other characteristics that are analyzed include origin-destination linkage definitions, population weighting, and distance thresholds. Correlation analysis is used to assess relationships of alternative measures with a simple percentage measure and with each other. Low correlations would suggest that measures capture different aspects of accessibility that are related to their qualitative characteristics. Results show the alternative measures to be dissimilar from the percentage measure; however, high correlations among alternative measures suggest that there is little to differentiate certain disaggregated measures in spite of their richer qualitative interpretation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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