Street-network Sprawl in Amsterdam, Netherlands


What is Street-network sprawl?

Street-network Sprawl is a way to measure urban sprawl, worldwide, through the connectedness of the streets. Less sprawl means more connected, more walkable streets. Well-connected streets – like New York City’s grid – are more walkable and can be served by public transit.

The street network is permanent, and its connectivity affects the livability and environmental footprint of cities for decades and centuries to come. In places with more connected streets, residents drive less and walk more. A well-connected street network is associated with better outcomes for health, the environment, sustainable consumption, social integration, and equity.

We can quantify how connected street networks are with the Street Network Disconnectedness Index (SNDi).

SNDi -- our measure of street-network sprawl (disconnectedness)

The SNDi is a comprehensive measurement of “sprawl”. It captures:

A higher SNDi means less-connected streets – i.e., more sprawl. For the 10262 cities in our dataset, the average SNDi is 2.25, with half of the cities' SNDis falling between 1.08 and 3.25.

More information on the sprawl index can be found in these research papers:

To see the state of street-network sprawl across the globe, visit the sprawlmap.

Amsterdam: city in Noord-Holland, Netherlands

What exactly constitutes the spatial extent of the city? For these aggregations, we used the Global Human Settlement Layer Urban Center Database (GHS-UCDB) to define the boundaries of the city. These cities -- or urban centers -- cover areas that are densely populated and built-up, and so may extend beyond the spatial borders of these cities that we may be familiar with. The GHS area is shaded in blue.

View Amsterdam, Netherlands on the sprawlmap

Most recent snapshot: Taking into account the entire (i.e. aggregate) street network in Amsterdam as of 2014, the overall level of street-network sprawl is 1.49, which is relatively well-connected.

Trends in street network construction: The SNDis of street construction for the respective time periods are 1.36, 1.9, 2.17 and 1.99. Street construction in Amsterdam increased in disconnectivity initially but has since improved. The streets constructed in 1991-2000 were the most disconnected.

Quantity of street network construction: The street network in Amsterdam spans a total of 3821 kilometers. It is dominated by roads constructed prior to 1975. These roads have an SNDi of 1.36, which is relatively well-connected.

Effect on the aggregate network: New construction in each period adds to the total stock of streets, but does not change streets that have already been built. Therefore, it has a limited effect on the street network as a whole. The SNDis of the aggregate street network in the respective time periods are 1.36, 1.44, 1.47 and 1.49. Overall, the SNDi of the aggregate street network has risen: the street network in Amsterdam has become more disconnected. This increase has slowed: between 1975 and 1976-1990, SNDi rose by 0.08 points, but between 1991-2000 and 2001-2014, it rose by just 0.02.

Amsterdam and Noord-Holland do not follow the same trend in the disconnectivity of their street network constructions. The SNDi in Amsterdam peaked in 1991-2000, while the SNDi of street constructions in Noord-Holland rose steadily.

How do development practices in Amsterdam fare in comparison to others in Noord-Holland? Most recently in 2001-2014, street construction in Amsterdam was the 5th-most disconnected out of the 7 cities in Noord-Holland. Its position in the ranks since 1975 has fallen; relative to other cities in Noord-Holland, street construction in Amsterdam has become more connected. Amsterdam ranked 4th in 1975, 5th in 1976-1990, 3rd in 1991-2000 and 5th in 2001-2014.

Amsterdam and Netherlands do not follow the same trend in the disconnectivity of their street network constructions. The SNDi in Amsterdam peaked in 1991-2000, while the SNDi of street constructions in Netherlands rose steadily.

How do development practices in Amsterdam fare in comparison to others in Netherlands? Most recently in 2001-2014, street construction in Amsterdam was the 19th-most disconnected out of the 37 cities in Netherlands. Its position in the ranks since 1975 has fallen; relative to other cities in Netherlands, street construction in Amsterdam has become more connected. Amsterdam ranked 14th in 1975, 16th in 1976-1990, 12th in 1991-2000 and 19th in 2001-2014.

Amsterdam and Noord-Holland follow the same trend in the disconnectivity of their aggregate street networks. The SNDi for both of these rose steadily.

To date, Amsterdam is the 4th-most disconnected out of the 7 cities in Noord-Holland. Its position in the ranks since 1975 has not changed. Amsterdam ranked 4th in 1975, 4th in 1976-1990, 4th in 1991-2000 and 4th in 2001-2014.

Amsterdam and Netherlands follow the same trend in the disconnectivity of their aggregate street networks. The SNDi for both of these rose steadily.

To date, Amsterdam is the 16th-most disconnected out of the 37 cities in Netherlands. Its position in the ranks since 1975 has fallen; relative to other cities in Netherlands, the street network in Amsterdam has become more connected. Amsterdam ranked 14th in 1975, 17th in 1976-1990, 16th in 1991-2000 and 16th in 2001-2014.

As of 2015, Amsterdam had a built-up area of 215.32 square kilometers, and a population of 1128715 people.

These are some other cities with approximately the same population: