Trajectories of Urban Development and Motorization: Clustering 287 Chinese Cities

TitleTrajectories of Urban Development and Motorization: Clustering 287 Chinese Cities
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsShenhao Wang, Jinhua Zhao
Conference NameTransportation Research Board 97th Annual Meeting
Conference LocationWashington, D.C.

The development of cities follows divergent trajectories. However, how the diverse developments occurred in cities, particularly those small and medium cities, is an understudied topic. By using the data of the full 287 Chinese cities from 2001 to 2014 and applying a time-series clustering method, this study analyzes how Chinese cities were developed and motorized in several divergent ways. The authors found that the Chinese cities could be classified into four tiers. The 23 Tier 1 cities characterized their extremely rapid concentration of population and wealth growth, high-density urban sprawl associated with considerable road investment, and a constant tension between auto ownership and subway line investment. The 41 Tier 2 cities characterized the considerable amount of wealth, low-density and moderate urban sprawl associated with aggressive road investment, and rapidly increasing auto ownership. The 134 Tier 3 cities were actually the most representative of the overall Chinese cities, with mild concentration of population, moderate GDP growth, and urban sprawl associated with well-matched road investment. The 89 Tier 4 cities characterized the concentrated poverty and the rapid urban sprawl with very little road investment. The authors argue that their tier structure is more informative and insightful than the conventional one. The authors illustrated the use of time-series clustering and demonstrated that considerable heterogeneity existed in the development trajectories of Chinese cities. Particularly, the diverse development patterns of the cities in Tier 2, 3, and 4, cannot be neglected in the discussion concerning the urban development of Chinese cities.