Journal Article Analysis of spatial and temporal patterns of daily activities of suburban residents based on GPS data: A case study of the Shangdi-Qinghe area of Beijing

Xue, Zhang  ,  Yanwei, Chai  ,  Zifeng, Chen  ,  Yiming, Tan

The rapid growth of urban populations in China, together with dramatic institutional transition, has led to the fast spread of urban space and a growing tendency toward residential suburbanization. Remarkable environmental changes have taken place in urban China, with large suburban residential areas emerging in big Chinese cities. As often observed in urban China, the dwelling environment of suburban areas is distinct from downtown areas with less job opportunities and insufficient facilities, resulting in longer distance in daily trips and disadvantages in residents′ accessibility. This study, based on a GPS based activity-travel survey in Beijing in 2012, applies a time-geographic research framework to explore the activity pattern of suburban residents in both spatial and temporal dimensions as an attempt to reveal characteristics of suburban China. Emphasis is put on daily rhythms and time allocation of activities based on the activity-travel diaries and time space paths based on the GPS data. On the one hand, in the aspect of time, it is observed that the daily life of the suburban residents tends to be regular on weekdays, diversified and fragmented on weekends. On weekdays, working activities constitute a dominant part in time allocation, while on weekends, housework and leisure activities constitute a greater part of time use. On the other hand, in the aspect of space, it is found that the majority of the suburban residents are employed in the inner city and most of the non-work activities take place in suburbs with an exception of shopping activities on weekends. Travel on weekdays is "less time and multi-purpose" and on weekends is "multiple time and single purpose". It could be concluded that the suburban areas in Beijing, while being gradually shifting from dwelling space to living space for suburban residents, still need further promotion in job opportunities and shopping facilities. The results from the study shed light on the weekly spatial and temporal patterns of suburban residents in China and provide beneficial implications for spatial planning and infrastructure construction in the suburban areas to enhance the quality of life in suburban China.

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