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A global assessment of street network sprawl

Christopher Barrington-Leigh and Adam Millard-Ball

No 6vp8j, OSF Preprints from Center for Open Science

Abstract: Disconnected urban street networks, which we call “street-network sprawl,” are strongly associated with increased vehicle travel, energy use and CO_{2} emissions, as shown by previous research in Europe and North America. In this paper, we provide the first systematic and globally commensurable measures of street-network sprawl based on graph-theoretic and geographic concepts. Using data on all 46 million km of mapped streets worldwide, we compute these measures for the entire Earth at the highest possible resolution. We generate a summary scalar measure for street-network sprawl, the Street-Network Disconnectedness index (SNDi), as well as a data-driven multidimensional classification that identifies eight empirical street-network types that span the spectrum of connectivity, from gridiron to dendritic (tree-like) and circuitous networks. Our qualitative validation shows that both the scalar and multidimensional measures are meaningfully comparable within and across countries, and successfully capture varied dimensions of walkability and urban development. We further show that in select high-income countries, our measures explain cross-sectional variation in household transportation decisions, and a one standard-deviation increase in SNDi is associated with an extra 0.25 cars owned per household. We aggregate our measures to the scale of countries, cities, and smaller geographies and describe patterns in street-network sprawl around the world. Latin America, Japan, South Korea, much of Europe and North Africa stand out for their low levels of street-network sprawl, while the highest levels are found in south-east Asia, the United States and the British Isles.

Date: 2019-04-23
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-sea and nep-tre
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DOI: 10.31219/

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