Analysis of development of road network provides insight into urbanization process

The study, published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, examined almost 200 years of data on the evolution of the road network in an area north of Milan, called Groane.  Researchers used the quantitative tools of network theory to examine the evolution of road networks, which are one of the long lasting elements of urban forms and are considered a fundamental driver in urban development.

"Our study of Groane shows that over time, cells of land demarcated by roads have become more evenly distributed and square shaped. 

"We found a general trend towards a greater number of four-way road junctions, compared with the earlier structure where dead ends and three-way junctions were more common."

The most central streets in the network in 2007 tend to coincide with the oldest ones, highlighting the importance of central roads as a robust spatial backbone that remains stable over time.