Researchers from McGill and the University of California, Santa Cruz have identified a cause of increasing urban sprawl. Barrington-Leigh and Millard-Ball report that “the local streets of the world’s cities are becoming less connected, a global trend that is driving urban sprawl and discouraging the use of public transportation. . . . in large parts of the world, recent urban growth has increasingly resulted in inflexible and disconnected street networks. . . . Gridded street networks . . . promote efficient, dense urban form in Bolivia, Argentina and Peru. Germany, Denmark and the UK have been able to maintain moderate levels of street connectivity thanks to pedestrian and bicycle pathways, offering greater connectivity to non-motorized travel. . . . Past research has shown that the increased accessibility offered by gridded street networks makes walking, cycling and the use of public transit much simpler while cul-de-sacs tend to encourage the use of personal motorized vehicles.” Data were collected from OpenStreetMap and via satellites and findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Street Network Patterns Reveal Worrying Worldwide Trend Towards Urban Sprawl.” 2020. Press release, McGill University, https://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/channels/news/street-network-patterns-reveal-worrying-worldwide-trend-towards-urban-sprawl-304103