Accessibility in cities

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Access to people, goods, services and information is the basis of economic development in cities. The better and more efficient this access, the greater the economic benefits through economies of scale, agglomeration effects and networking advantages. Cities with higher levels of agglomeration tend to have higher GDP per capita and higher levels of productivity.

This paper focusses on one central aspect of urban development: transport and urban form and how the two shape the provision of access to people, goods and services, and information in cities.

This paper is primarily based on an extensive literature review and aims to assist a further re-framing of the urban transport debate by emphasising accessibility as the underlying objective of mobility and transport in cities. Above all, such a re-framing implies a far greater recognition of urban form characteristics such as land use, the distribution of densities and urban design, in addition to more conventional transport characteristics such as related infrastructure, service levels and travel speeds.

This paper will:

  • present evidence on how accessibility in cities is created through the co-dependence of urban form and transport systems and how this relates to urban carbon emissions,
  • compare key economic and social impacts of different urban accessibility pathways,
  • discus contemporary patterns, trends and tipping points related to the shape of cities, urban mobility and technological innovation,
  • the final section presents the enabling conditions for increasing accessibility and low-carbon mobility in cities.