Just as the cardiovascular network distributes energy and materials to cells in an organism, urban road networks distribute energy, materials and people to locations in cities. Understanding the topology of urban networks that connect people and places leads to insights into how cities are organized. This paper proposes a statistical approach to determine features of urban road networks that affect accessibility. Statistics of road networks and traffic patterns across 425 U.S. cities show that urban road networks are much less centralized than biological vascular networks. As a result, per capita road capacity is independent of the spatial extent of cities. In contrast, driving distances depend on the size of the city, although not as much as is predicted by a completely centralized model. This intermediate pattern between centralized and decentralized extremes may reflect a mixture of different travel behaviors. The approach presented here offers a novel macroscopic perspective on the differences between small and large cities and on how road infrastructure and traffic might change as cities grow.
Samaniego, Horacio; Moses, Melanie E..
Cities as Organisms: Allometric Scaling of Urban Road Networks.
Journal of Transport and Land Use.
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