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Cities as Organisms: Allometric Scaling of Urban Road Networks

Author

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  • Samaniego, Horacio

    () (Department of Computer Science, University of New Mexico)

  • Moses, Melanie E.

    (University of New Mexico)

Abstract

We propose a statistical approach to determine the features of urban road networks affecting accessibility. Our approach is inspired by metabolic scaling theory (MST) in biology (West et al. 1997). We study the structure of road networks across 425 cities of different sizes in the USA. We show decentralization as an important difference between urban road networks and biological vascular networks. Per capita road capacity is independent of the spatial extent of cities. Driving distances do 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 the road infrastructure and traffic might change as cities grow.

Suggested Citation

  • Samaniego, Horacio & Moses, Melanie E., 2008. "Cities as Organisms: Allometric Scaling of Urban Road Networks," The Journal of Transport and Land Use, Center for Transportation Studies, University of Minnesota, vol. 1(1), pages 21-39.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:jtralu:0004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. S L Handy & D A Niemeier, 1997. "Measuring accessibility: an exploration of issues and alternatives," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 29(7), pages 1175-1194, July.
    4. David Levinson & Ajay Kumar, 1997. "Density and the Journey to Work," Working Papers 199701, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
    5. Kühnert, Christian & Helbing, Dirk & West, Geoffrey B., 2006. "Scaling laws in urban supply networks," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 363(1), pages 96-103.
    6. Geoffrey B. West & James H. Brown & Brian J. Enquist, 1997. "A General Model for the Origin of Allometric Scaling Laws in Biology," Working Papers 97-03-019, Santa Fe Institute.
    7. ., 2005. "Institutions, Governance and Growth," Chapters,in: Aid, Institutions and Development, chapter 2 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    8. Lämmer, Stefan & Gehlsen, Björn & Helbing, Dirk, 2006. "Scaling laws in the spatial structure of urban road networks," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 363(1), pages 89-95.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Kii, Masanobu & Nakanishi, Hitomi & Nakamura, Kazuki & Doi, Kenji, 2016. "Transportation and spatial development: An overview and a future direction," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 148-158.
    2. Chen, Yanguang, 2017. "Multi-scaling allometric analysis for urban and regional development," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 465(C), pages 673-689.
    3. Levinson, David & El-Geneidy, Ahmed, 2009. "The minimum circuity frontier and the journey to work," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 732-738, November.
    4. Levinson, David M & Krizek, Kevin, 2008. "From the Editors," The Journal of Transport and Land Use, Center for Transportation Studies, University of Minnesota, vol. 1(2), pages 1-3.
    5. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Strulik, Holger, 2011. "Energy distribution and economic growth," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 782-797.
    6. Watanabe, Hayafumi & Takayasu, Hideki & Takayasu, Misako, 2013. "Relations between allometric scalings and fluctuations in complex systems: The case of Japanese firms," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 392(4), pages 741-756.
    7. David Levinson, 2011. "Network Structure and City Size," Working Papers 000094, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Road Networks; Urban Allometry; Urban Metabolism;

    JEL classification:

    • R40 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - General

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