Contextualizing 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 play a crucial role in transport and urban planning and have the potential to contribute to more sustainable futures if their hierarchy is properly understood. However, the concept of the urban road network hierarchy, which refers to street classification and prioritization, is not well defined within the domain of transport engineering management, leaving many questions unanswered. Is it simply a planning tool, or does it extend to defining the essence of cities? Is it a qualitative or quantitative concept? Does it emerge organically or require proactive planning? Given the lack of comprehensive answers to these questions, this research aims to provide a contextual understanding of the urban road network hierarchy through the lens of sustainable transport futures. To this purpose, we conducted a systematic literature review, which is an effective method for consolidating knowledge on a specific topic. A total of 42 articles were analyzed using both quantitative bibliometric analysis and qualitative content analysis. Our work demonstrates that the road network hierarchy consists of 16 sub-concepts. Four main research trends were identified and discussed: a) road morphology and structure, b) advanced algorithms for street classification, c) integrated street classification planning, and d) the social dimension of street classification. Recent literature indicates a shift toward alternative road network hierarchy approaches that prioritize sustainable mobility over car-centric models. In conclusion, our analysis reveals that the urban road network hierarchy is a multifaceted yet under researched “vehicle for change,” which, if utilized effectively, offers opportunities to reimagine urban road environments.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages33
JournalFrontiers of Engineering Management
Early online date18 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jun 2024

Cite this