A novel global urban typology framework for sustainable mobility futures

Jimi B Oke, Youssef M Aboutaleb, Arun Akkinepally, Carlos Lima Azevedo, Yafei Han, P Christopher Zegras, Joseph Ferreira, Moshe E Ben-Akiva 2019. Environmental Research Letters 14(9):095006.


Urban mobility significantly contributes to global carbon dioxide emissions. Given the rapid expansion and growth in urban areas, cities thus require innovative policies to ensure efficient and sustainable mobility. Urban typologies can serve as a vehicle for understanding dynamics of cities, which exhibit high variability in form, economic output, mobility behavior, among others. Yet, typologies relevant for sustainable urban mobility analyses are few, outdated and not large enough in scope. In this paper, we present a new typologization spanning 331 cities in 124 countries. Our sample represents 40% of the global urban population and contains the most recent data from 2008 to date. Using a factor analytic and agglomerative clustering approach, we identify 9 urban factors and 12 typologies. We discuss the implications of this new framework for researchers and planners and investigate the relationships between mobility and environmental sustainability indicators. Notably, we show an immediate application of the urban typologies to better understanding travel behavior and also describe their usage for detailed large-scale simulation in representative prototype cities for insights into sustainable future mobility policy pathways. Our data and results are publicly available for further exploration and will serve as a foundation for future analyses toward desirable urban and environmental outcomes.