City Driving Efficiency

I was thinking about the variations in city styles. Some cities have very regular grid structure when they have been planned but haphazard street structure is more common in old cities which evolved organically over time.

I have created a system below in JavaScript with GoogleMaps mashup, which takes a candidate city and by plotting a random set of journeys via walking or by car, one can see the relationship between the two to see the effect of one-way streets and how cars are pushed off the most direct route because they must follow these uni-directional paths.

Each city produces an efficiency score, which relates to the one-way streets effect. Ie if a city has no one-way streets, then the walking routes and car routes would be very similar (giving a score near 1); but a city with many one-way streets or awkward routing schemes will have a higher score.

Jason Ruane, December 2015

City Drive/Walk Ratio Walk/Fly Ratio Data
Portland (East), OR, USA 1.102 1.275 200 journeys
San Francisco, CA, USA 1.155 1.249 200 journeys
Brooklyn, NY, USA 1.277 1.241 200 journeys
Shanghai, China 1.350 1.346 200 journeys
Dublin, Ireland 1.447 1.319 200 journeys
London, UK 1.450 1.302 200 journeys
Abu Dhabi, UAE 1.514 1.463 200 journeys
Rome, Italy 1.582 1.336 200 journeys

This should be a GPS location. eg. 53.345350,-6.264889

Distance in metres. eg. 2000

Number to run



I am delighted to see that the newer, more grid-like cities performed better than the chaotic organic structures of older cities. Naturally there are many reasons such as topography, geology and politics in play to affect these figures so I do not purport that this is a strict commentary on urban traffic planning.

For the future I feel it may be of interest to plot the same journeys over time and see if certain cities are getting better or worse over time. Also I intend to increase the number of cities plotted for a fuller picture.

If you are interested in chatting about this project or something like it, please contact me at

Jason Ruane, December 2015