Planarity and Street Network Representation in Urban Form Analysis
Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science (2018)
13 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2018 Last revised: 22 Nov 2018
Date Written: November 1, 2018
Models of street networks underlie research in urban travel behavior, accessibility, design patterns, and morphology. These models are commonly defined as planar, meaning they can be represented in two dimensions without any underpasses or overpasses. However, real-world urban street networks exist in three-dimensional space and frequently feature grade separation such as bridges and tunnels: planar simplifications can be useful but they also impact the results of real-world street network analysis. This study measures the nonplanarity of drivable and walkable street networks in the centers of 50 cities worldwide, then examines the variation of nonplanarity across a single city. It develops two new indicators - the Spatial Planarity Ratio and the Edge Length Ratio - to measure planarity and describe infrastructure and urbanization. While some street networks are approximately planar, we empirically quantify how planar models can inconsistently but drastically misrepresent intersection density, street lengths, routing, and connectivity.
Keywords: GIS, geospatial, street network, network analysis, network science, graph theory, transportation, routing, urban planning, urban design, urban morphology, urban studies, spatial planarity, nonplanar, urban fabric, modeling, simulation, traffic
JEL Classification: C02, R40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation