Contextualising Urban Road Network Hierarchy and Its Role for Sustainable Transport Futures: A Systematic Literature Review Using Bibliometric Analysis and Content Analysis Tools

Stefanos Tsigdinos, Alexandros Nikitas, Efthimios Bakogiannis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Urban road networks constitute the cornerstone of transport and urban planning in our cities today and might be a key to more sustainable futures if we get their hierarchy right. However, urban road network hierarchy (i.e., street classification and prioritisation) is not a concept well-decoded in transport engineering management; there are many questions around it. Is it solely a tool for planning or is it a broader ideology defining the very nature of cities? Is it qualitative or quantitative? Does it emerge dynamically or is it all about pro-active planning? As these questions have not been answered adequately to date, this research aims to contextualise urban road network hierarchy through the lens of sustainable transport futures. To this purpose, we conduct a systematic literature review (SLR), which is powerful in consolidating the knowledge on a specific topic. A corpus of 42 articles was examined both quantitively and qualitatively through a bibliometric analysis and a narrative-centric content review respectively. Our work demonstrates that road network hierarchy consists of 16 sub-concepts. Four main research trends are identified and discussed namely: a) road morphology and structure, b) advanced algorithms for street classification, c) integrated street classification planning and d) social dimension of street classification. Alternative road network hierarchy approaches favouring sustainable mobility prevail lately over car-centric ones. Our analysis concludes that the urban road network hierarchy is an under-researched but multidimensional ‘vehicle for change’ that if used wisely can allow societies to re-invent urban road environments.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers of Engineering Management
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 3 Jan 2024

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