Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Cities, planning departments, and design firms are becoming more interested in promoting measures to increase the connectivity of street networks. As a result, new design guidelines have been recommended, regulations have been adopted, and yet, a clear, comprehensive understanding is still lacking for the existing environments we seek to change. This research documents the measures of 584,561 road segments and 173,511 blocks from 4,321 local areas across 24 of the most populated American cities. It also provides a means for assessing the measures of existing conditions in the American city – their central tendency and variability, relative to the suggested guidelines proposed in for practice. It provides a fundamental sense of the scale, density and directness of the road segments and blocks, as configured to form the texture of the urban fabric encountered across these American cities. Lastly, and perhaps more importantly, this work illustrates that the scales of road segment length and block area measured substantially less than the suggested maximum allowable given in the regulatory policies, and yet their density was still remarkably low. In conclusion, it calls for a review of the measures used to describe connectivity, and suggests the use of a measure of density that is contingent on both scale and configuration to policy makers to more accurately predict their desired outcome.


Originally published in:

Dawn Haynie. “Measuring the Scale, Density and Directness of American Cities,” 25th Congress for New Urbanism, Seattle, Washington May 2017.