Network structure and city size

PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e29721. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029721. Epub 2012 Jan 12.

Abstract

Network structure varies across cities. This variation may yield important knowledge about how the internal structure of the city affects its performance. This paper systematically compares a set of surface transportation network structure variables (connectivity, hierarchy, circuity, treeness, entropy, accessibility) across the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. A set of scaling parameters are discovered to show how network size and structure vary with city size. These results suggest that larger cities are physically more inter-connected. Hypotheses are presented as to why this might obtain. This paper then consistently measures and ranks access to jobs across 50 US metropolitan areas. It uses that accessibility measure, along with network structure variables and city size to help explain journey-to-work time and auto mode share in those cities. A 1 percent increase in accessibility reduces average metropolitan commute times by about 90 seconds each way. A 1 percent increase in network connectivity reduces commute time by 0.1 percent. A 1 percent increase in accessibility results in a 0.0575 percent drop in auto mode share, while a 1 percent increase in treeness reduces auto mode share by 0.061 percent. Use of accessibility and network structure measures is important for planning and evaluating the performance of network investments and land use changes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Automobiles
  • Cities*
  • Employment
  • Humans
  • Population Dynamics
  • Regression Analysis
  • Transportation*
  • United States