Projects Mobility, cities and transport

Mobility, cities and transport

The team's objective is to better understand geographical structures and dynamics through analysing mobility, infrastructures and urban forms but also the social processes that contribute to them. The methods used by the team are based on analysis and spatial and behavioural modelling to anticipate and plan 'new urban spaces'.

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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 November 2014 09:01

Mobility, cities and transport / Scientific Objectives

Exploring and designing 'new urban spaces'

Urban agglomerations are the outcome of multiple decisions that prevail over the construction of space and daily practices that model its use. Their complexity has blurred the boundary between city and countryside. That complexity also reflects the diversity in the life styles of residents whose everyday lives unfold in fragmented locations. In these 'new urban spaces' the different spatial and temporal scales are increasingly articulated.

In this context, transport infrastructures, the distribution of activities and amenities (jobs, leisure, services, habitat) and accessibility deriving from them make daily mobility more diverse and make residential location strategies more complex. The economic, environmental and social consequences are a major challenge with respect to the current objective of sustainable development

To study these phenomena, their interactions and impacts, three research areas have been identified:

Analysis of interactions among mobility, infrastructure and urban forms

Spatial and behavioural modelling

Anticipation of new practices and new urban spaces

Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 November 2014 16:58

Mobility, cities and transport / Spatial and behavioural modelling

Several mathematical and computer-based approaches are mobilised to structure knowledge around a theoretical spatial and behavioural modelling action or an action oriented at decision-making in planning:

• Formalisation of spatial processes through graph theory, fractal geometry, spatial interaction models, etc.

The fractal approach as used in the team is not limited to analyses of urban textures but relies on modelling of urban fabrics based on fractal reference models. This concerns somewhat theoretical models but also the explicit use of the logic of iterative functions in the context of urban development scenario simulation.

• Formalisation of decision-making processes and behaviours by a probabilistic approach, fuzzy set theory, the idea of utility, etc.

Various approaches are used in modelling the behaviour of agents (households, individuals). Classical approaches based on utility functions are employed for example in the S-Ghost project conducted in close collaboration with the CORE (Catholic University of Louvain) laboratory and the University of Luxembourg. Fuzzy subset theory is also used in the modelling of decision making processes associated with residential choice, but also for evaluating accessibility to services and shops.

• Epistemological reflections for ontological conceptualisation of geographical space with a view to proposing a formal framework for mathematical and computer-based modelling.

• Spatial and behavioural simulations relying on various types of modelling: cellular automata, multi-agent systems, integrated urbanisation-transport models (LUTI), etc.

• Development of decision making tools in touch with social realities and planning actors: Fractalopolis and MUP-city, Geographer, Mobisim, Miro and Lucsim.

Software packages have been designed for developing urban scenarios corresponding to conceptual thinking about the value of a 'fractal city' enabling these principles to be applied to actual situations. Rules for accessibility and morphological standards are included in these decision-making aids. While MUP-city is better adapted on the scale of city districts or suburban villages, Fractalopolis can be used to work on the scale of agglomerations and metropolitan areas.

Last Updated: Thursday, 22 January 2015 09:29

Mobility, cities and transport / Analysis of interactions among mobility, infrastructure and urban forms

Various complementary approaches are mobilised to better understand urban structures and the mobility practices associated with them:

Advanced surveys: introduction of new survey and interview methods through a multidisciplinary approach involving geographers, psychologists and linguists. These methods can be used to explore what respondents feel while using approaches that allow the results to be integrated into behavioural modelling.

Fractal analyses: development and validation of fractal analysis methods adapted for exploring the spatial organisation of urban structures and their value for developing new urban spaces.

One of the research priorities for several years has been to better describe and understand the spatial organisation of urban fabrics and transport networks based on a multi-scale approach using fractal geometry. The work done relates to methodological aspects (exploration and development of measuring methods and indicators) and the distinction and classification of built fabrics depending on their morphological characteristics and the relationship between the road network and the distribution of the built environment. This has made it possible to identify the influence of historical contexts and development strategies as well as certain properties common to European cities.

Three different types of fractal form







Systemic analysis: allowance for the complexity of interactions among urban forms, daily and residential mobility, decision-making processes of individuals and households and decision-maker strategies in an integrated approach.

Last Updated: Thursday, 22 January 2015 09:27

Mobility, cities and transport / Anticipation of new practices and new urban spaces

Based on modelling, simulation and evaluation, this research area seeks to identify and anticipate conceptual approaches and levers for action for the sustainable development of new urban spaces:

e-Cities: analysis of the impacts of new technologies on mobility practices and urban shape

Since the 1990s growth in equipment and use of the Internet and mobile phones has been phenomenal. This mass appropriation of ICTs accompanies and accelerates changes in life style. It impacts our relations with territory and with mobility, work and business organisation, consumption and health and leisure practices. One can, however, question the (ecological) risk of investing in these new practices and the benefits we derive from them in terms of well-being and quality of life. Examples of on-going or completed studies:

EFFETS: (Experimenting, training for distance working, estimating flows averted, effects on mobility and levels of greenhouse gas emissions)

image preditThe EFFETS project is designed to test and simulate the impacts of working from home on the active population and their mobility practices. It shows that not only does working from home affect travel (modes, forms and reasons) but it also acts on the programme of activities and the organisation of all individuals in the household. For example, working from home promotes hypermarket visits outside of Saturday morning peak times, freeing up this time slot for individual and family cultural or sports activities so generating new demand and new types of travel that need to be identified. In the longer term it will also affect residential choice.






 e-commerce, click and collect, and home delivery

E-commerce leads users to adopt 'multichannel behaviour', combining several channels in the purchasing process. The findings of preliminary studies reveal that regular e-commerce users do not stop visiting shops and physical points of contact (no substitution effect). There is hybrid frequentation of both channels, impacting socio-spatial practices. Moreover, the expansion of home deliveries and the advent of virtual hypermarkets (click and collect), as with distance working, are changing our relationships with territory in terms of usage.

Over-the-phone medication prescription

Poster AGF-CNFG 2012-ARM-01 While there is much talk of the value of distance consultations in remote areas, the results of this study show that 'phone prescriptions' from emergency call regulating centres are made more, proportionally, for calls from urban settings. The increase in 'phone prescriptions' clearly reflects the establishment of a new use for the telephone in cities to reassure patients and that meets the need for immediate medical advice. This changes our relations with health services and their location. The distribution of health services and above all their physical and/or virtual accessibility appear to be decisive factors for dynamics of new urban spaces.




New fractal cities: mobilisation of fractal geometry for designing multi-scale urban development scenarios and multimodal mobility.

Resort to fractal geometry for analysing the spatial organisation of urban and suburban fabrics prompts the use of fractal logic to develop a concept of sustainable development. The objective is to avoid the fragmenting of urbanised and natural areas and to simultaneously propose ready access to recreational areas close to residential areas. Moreover, the aim is to optimise access to services and businesses depending on the frequency of use by promoting the use of public transport and soft modes of transport. The concept is similar to the logic of 'transit-oriented development'.

Study area : Lyon                               Step 1     


Simulation of a TOD-style (transit oriented development) development scenario promoting development along transport routes while respecting an urban hierarchy.






  Step 2                                            Step 3


The various steps correspond to customer areas of the various central places of different levels. The colours indicate a surplus or shortfall in population compared with the average population of urban centres at each level.






Reflection on the contribution of urban verticalities for transport system densities and connectivity.

 Illustration Metaphore



Last Updated: Thursday, 22 January 2015 09:31