ECONS - WGL PAKT Initiative - Evolving Complex Networks
Regional resource management under environmental and demographic change

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European Physical Journal B, arXiv:1102.3584 (2011) DOI:10.1140/epjb/e2011-10889-3

Urban road networks spatial networks with universal geometric features?

S.H.Y. Chan, R.V. Donner, S. Lämmer

Urban road networks have distinct geometric properties that are partially determined by their (quasi-) two-dimensional structure. In this work, we study these properties for 20 of the largest German cities.We find that the small-scale geometry of all examined road networks is extremely similar. The object-size distributions of road segments and the resulting cellular structures are characterised by heavy tails. As a specific feature, a large degree of rectangularity is observed in all networks, with link angle distributions approximately described by stretched exponential functions. We present a rigorous statistical analysis of the main geometric characteristics and discuss their mutual interrelationships. Our results demonstrate the fundamental importance of cost-efficiency constraints for the time evolution of urban road networks.