Road Density


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Road density is the ratio of the length of the country’s total road network to the country’s land area. The road network includes all roads in the country: motorways, highways, main or national roads, secondary or regional roads, and other urban and rural roads.

Why introduce the idea of density with a graphic like this?  Well, when it could be seen the team was motivated to write the following:

The United Kingdom (green line just below Switzerland above) has a national land use policy like most of the EU. The UK is a dense island nation represented by a core of residential, institutional and commercial urban centers in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the relationship with the Republic of Ireland is improving. Here the urgency of a sustainable energy, low waste world is well defined but the question of successful implementation remains unanswered.  Yet, this might be the first place of significant size where it will offer some hope.

In the United States and the EU, economic policy distributes energy resources to accomplish affordability while anticipating a period of increased scarcity extending through the twenty-first century.  The increase in “green deals” and the promotion of tech-innovations focus on all levels of new urban development.  Alternative bio-energy/hybrid systems, the design of materials based on re-use as the sustainable alternative addresses 10% to 20% of the problem. This is roughly equivalent to the rate of new products entering the market.  The remaining 80% to 90% is represented by the world that is already built.

The issue is neatly symbolized in the United States by the high speed train.  Thousands of rail mass transit miles in older urban centers offer a century of trial and error development of enormous value to successful urbanization.  For example, the New York City transit service area is just 321 square miles serving its 8 plus million residents who over the course of one year will travel nearly 12 billion miles.  (See the National Transit Database for your region).

Older mass transit systems are examples of how government absorbs private economic development in the public interest.  Based on where and when the goal posts are set, “penny saved” and “payback” investment in the existing dense core should encourage the holders of real estate to invest mightily to save millions, but the capital moves elsewhere based on greenfield opportunity (AKA farm land) and in the American dry-lands (mid- to southwest areas where substantial new development has occurred.

As of the beginning of the 21st century nothing compels investors to “future-proof” past the wonders of “breaking even to a solid ROI”   To do so will require new forms of public investment aimed at moving the dime off the zero-sum question.  This can be done by limiting development outside of the preset urban core with a variety of disincentives.

Similar limitations are outlined in vital areas of the social economy.   The social security systems of European and American origin drew a safety line around everyone.   These health, education, welfare and defense investments borrowed extensively on continuously advancing “productivity” technologies.  It is reasonable to project the high cost of a long life, a civil society, and sadly, a permanent state of global warfare in a variety of combat settings.

The only threat to analysts becomes, increased social and economic dysfunctions contained within “regions” against which progress is defined. The bet on technology, a reasoned quality of life contract, and a means to end the confrontational conditions caused by the poor allocation of energy resources requires a serious look at global urbanization with a similar lines of demarcation.

At some point it will be necessary to break down data from organizations such as the IRF WRS in order to fully understand the relationship of fossil fuels/transportation and carbon emissions on a global to local basis.

DATA SOURCE: IRF World Road Statistics

RESTRICTIONS: Reproduction is strictly prohibited. Extracts must be quoted, after agreement with IRF Geneva, providing the source as:
“IRF Geneva, World Road Statistics WRS”.


  2. Road density (km of road per 100 sq. km of land area) [IS.ROD.DNST.K2]
    Roads, goods transported (million ton-km) [IS.ROD.GOOD.MT.K6]
    Roads, paved (% of total roads) [IS.ROD.PAVE.ZS]
    Roads, passengers carried (million passenger-km) [IS.ROD.PSGR.K6]
    Road sector diesel fuel consumption (kt of oil equivalent) [IS.ROD.DESL.KT]
    Road sector diesel fuel consumption per capita (kg of oil equivalent) [IS.ROD.DESL.PC]
    Road sector energy consumption (kt of oil equivalent) [IS.ROD.ENGY.KT]
    Road sector energy consumption per capita (kg of oil equivalent) [IS.ROD.ENGY.PC]
    Road sector energy consumption (% of total energy consumption) [IS.ROD.ENGY.ZS]
    Road sector gasoline fuel consumption (kt of oil equivalent) [IS.ROD.SGAS.KT]
    Road sector gasoline fuel consumption per capita (kg of oil equivalent) [IS.ROD.SGAS.PC]
    Roads, total network (km) [IS.ROD.TOTL.KM]
    Motor vehicles (per 1,000 people) [IS.VEH.NVEH.P3]
    Passenger cars (per 1,000 people) [IS.VEH.PCAR.P3]
    Vehicles (per km of road) [IS.VEH.ROAD.K1]