Measuring the structure of road networks

Feng Xie, David M Levinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

199 Scopus citations


Spatial networks display both topologic and geometric variations in their structure. This study investigates the measurement of a road network structure. Existing measures of heterogeneity, connectivity, accessibility, and interconnectivity are reviewed and three supplemental measures are proposed, including measures of entropy, connection patterns, and continuity. The proposed measures were applied to 16 test networks, which were derived from four idealized base networks: 90°, 45°, 30°, and completely connected. The results show that the differentiated structures of road networks can be evaluated by the measure of entropy; predefined connection patterns of arterial roads can be identified and quantified by the measures of ringness, webness, beltness, circuitness, and treeness. A measure of continuity evaluates the quality of a network from the perspective of travelers. Proposed measures could be used to describe the structural attributes of complicated road networks quantitatively, to compare different network structures, and to explore the structural evolution of networks in the spatial and temporal context. These measures can find application in urban planning and transportation practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-356
Number of pages21
JournalGeographical Analysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2007

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