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Urban spatial characteristics and transport

Indicator Fact Sheet (Deprecated)

This indicator is no longer being regularly updated

Assessment made on  01 Oct 2003

Generic metadata


Transport Transport (Primary theme)

Urban environment Urban environment

DPSIR: Driving force


Indicator codes
  • TERM 014
Geographic coverage:

Policy issue:  Ensure access to basic services by environment-friendly modes

Key messages

  • The high concentration of transport demand in urban areas offers a high potential for an efficient use of collective transport. The proximity of many activities, services and people also makes walking and cycling attractive in urban areas. However, the ongoing retreat of basic services (such as shops and healthcare) out of urban neighbourhoods poses a threat to these advantages.


Key assessment

The share of public transport and the intensity of its use generally increases with increasing density of the population of an urban area. Also the coverage of the costs for public transport is favoured by a concentration of travel demand and activities. Due to this concentration accessibility of public transport — but also by walking and cycling — can approach that of cars. The latter is also due to congestion on urban roads and limited (parking)space, which make it harder to get around in a car. Because of this, car ownership generally decreases with increasing population density.However, access to services and activities tend to become increasingly dependent on the car. Working places and shopping areas are increasingly located on greenfield areas at the edges of urban areas, where more (parking)space is available and ground prices are lower. As a result basic services tend to retreat from the residential areas. In addition, budget cuts in government services such as health care and education has led to a concentration of these services in a smaller number of large-scale locations.

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