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From Axial to Road-Centre Lines: A New Representation for Space Syntax and a New Model of Route Choice for Transport Network Analysis

Alasdair Turner
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Alasdair Turner: Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WOE 6BT, England

Environment and Planning B, 2007, vol. 34, issue 3, 539-555

Abstract: Axial analysis is one of the fundamental components of space syntax. The space syntax community has suggested that it picks up qualities of configurational relationships between spaces not illuminated by other representations. However, critics have questioned the absolute necessity of axial lines to space syntax, as well as the exact definition of axial lines. Why not another representation? In particular, why not road-centre lines, which are easily available in many countries for use within geographical information systems? Here I propose that a recently introduced method of analysis, angular segment analysis, can marry axial and road-centre line representations, and in doing so reflect a cognitive model of how route choice decisions may be made. I show that angular segment analysis can be applied generally to road-centre line segments or axial segments, through a simple length-weighted normalisation procedure that makes values between the two maps comparable. I make comparative quantitative assessments for a real urban system, not just investigating angular analysis between axial and road-centre line networks, but also including more intuitive measures based on metric (or block) distances between locations. I show that the new angular segment analysis algorithm produces better correlation with observed vehicular flow than both standard axial analysis and metric distance measures. The results imply that there is no reason why space syntax inspired measures cannot be combined with transportation network analysis representations in order to create a new, cognitively coherent, model of movement in the city.

Date: 2007
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