Transportation & Urban Environment

Rong Ma, Bin Chen, Chenghe Guan, Jing Meng, and Bo Zhang. 2018. “Socioeconomic determinants of China’s growing CH4 emissions.” Journal of Environmental Management, 228, 15 December 2018, Pp. 103-116. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Reducing CH4 emissions is a major global challenge, owing to the world-wide rise in emissions and concentration of CH4 in the atmosphere, especially in the past decade. China has been the greatest contributor to global anthropogenic CH4 emissions for a long time, but current understanding towards its growing emissions is insufficient. This paper aims to link China's CH4 emissions during 2005–2012 to their socioeconomic determinants by combining input-output models with structural decomposition analysis from both the consumption and income perspectives. Results show that changes in household consumption and income were the leading drivers of the CH4 growth in China, while changes in efficiency remained the strongest factor offsetting CH4 emissions. After 2007, with the global financial crisis and economic stimulus plans, embodied emissions from exports plunged but those from capital formation increased rapidly. The enabled emissions in employee compensation increased steadily over time, whereas emissions induced from firms' net surplus decreased gradually, reflecting the reform on income distribution. In addition, at the sectoral level, consumption and capital formation respectively were the greatest drivers of embodied CH4 emission changes from agriculture and manufacturing, while employee compensation largely determined the enabled emission changes across all industrial sectors. The growth of CH4 emissions in China was profoundly affected by the macroeconomic situation and the changes of economic structure. Examining economic drivers of anthropogenic CH4emissions can help formulate comprehensive mitigation policies and actions associated with economic production, supply and consumption.
Chenghe Guan and Peter Rowe. 2017. “In pursuit of a well-balanced network of cities and towns: A case study of the Changjiang Delta Region.” Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, 48, 3, Pp. 1-19. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Development of urban networks of cities and towns has received attention including discussions of tensions between population concentrations and overlaps with environmentally sensitive and disaster-prone areas. Moreover, certain development in broad regions of China, such as its deltas, has become a subject of debate. Contrary to some assumptions, this development within places like the Changjiang Delta (also known as the Yangtze River Delta) has proceeded in a relatively incremental manner. However, at this juncture, controlled development of larger cities, like Shanghai, has shifted to more conventional urbanization pathways forward involving larger city expansions. Nevertheless, further urban growth management appears to depend on development and maintenance of a well-balanced network of large, medium, and small-scaled cities and towns. An important aspect of this development involves definition of the Changjiang Delta region itself, and in particular, alongside its likely further economic performance. To these ends, a scenario-based Cellular Automata model of spatial distribution is deployed, reflecting separate thematic projections. A baseline for economic performance is developed, incorporating measures of fixed-asset investment in urban service, revenue from urban maintenance, and Gross Domestic Product. Revelation of a well-performing network involves spatial distribution of development at various scales, and in various concentrations within the region, moreover, location of this development, largely perpendicular to well-travelled corridors, appears as a preferable outcome, contrary to earlier depictions along the major transportation corridors.
Chenghe Guan and Peter Rowe. 2020. “Multi-criteria locational analysis for retail development in small towns.” In The Geography of Mobility, Wellbeing and Development: Understanding China’s Transformations through Big Data, 1st ed., Pp. 220. London: Routledge. Publisher's VersionAbstract



Big data is increasingly regarded as a new approach for understanding urban informatics and complex systems. Today, there is unprecedented data availability, with detailed remote-sensed data on the built environment and rich mineable web-based sources in the form of social media, web mapping, information services and other sources of unstructured "big data". 

This book brings together a group of international contributors to consider the geographical implications of mobility, wellbeing and development within and across Chinese cities through location-based big data perspectives. The degree of urban sprawl, productive density and vibrancy can be reflected from location-based social media big data. The challenge is to identify, map and model these relationships to develop cities at different places in the urban hierarchical system that are more sustainable. This edited book aims to tackle these issues through two inter-related geographical scales: inter-city level and intra-city level.

The text is designed for graduate courses in planning, geography, public policy and administration, and for international researchers who are involved in urban and regional economics and economic geography.

Chenghe Guan, R.B. Peiser, S. Fu, and C. Zhou. 2021. “New towns in China: the Liangzhu story.” In Toward Twenty-First Century New Towns, Peiser, R., and Forsyth, A. Eds. University of Pennsylvania Press.
Chenghe Guan and Peter G. Rowe. 2021. “Beyond big versus small: assessing spatial variation of urban neighborhood block structures in high-density cities.” Socio-Ecological Practice Research, 2021. Publisher's VersionAbstract
A striking feature of urban formation has been the deployment of mega-blocks, often on the order of sixteen hectares or more. On the other hand, recent urban policies give strong suggestions for smaller and finer-grained neighborhood block and grid arrangements. This paper explores the transformation of urban block structures in high-density cities beyond spatial conditions of big versus small blocks by emphasizing “place” making through the degree of spatial diversity and flexibility. Using spatial indices of urban block arrangements, road network efficiencies and gradients of transit network accessibility, the assessment on urban neighborhood block structure is applied to territories of central core, suburban and peripheral development in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen at multiple spatial scales. The results show that the overall efficiency and flexibility of urban block structures becomes more a matter of a narrowing of the range of differing block sizes among the three territories and a concomitant higher potential capacity for adaptation to a broader range of development options. Beyond the Chinese context, in high-density cities across the globe, policies on place making should adopt a multi-scale spatial analysis strategy to measure the configuration of the overall urban block structure and guide the transformation of the city.
Yingying Lyu and Ann Forsyth. 2021. “Attitudes, perceptions, and walking behavior in a Chinese city.” Journal of Transport & Health. Publisher's VersionAbstract


An increasing number of walking studies discussed the relationship of walking with attitudes and perceptions. However, the findings were not consistent, and few studies examined the relationship between walking and attitudes to overall mobility and multiple modes. In this paper, we contribute to the debates by exploring the relationship between walking for transport and broad attitudes to urban mobility and transport modes.


Using a clustered random sample survey conducted in a second-tier city in China (N=1,048), we hypothesized that people with different attitudes have different amounts of walking for transport. Data analysis methods involved descriptive statistics, t-tests, Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), hierarchical logistic models, and hierarchical linear models.


Positive attitudes and perceptions regarding multiple transport modes and related environments were associated with some walking for transport. T-tests indicated that those with different attitudes walked different amounts. Regression models showed that associations between attitudes and odds of people walking varied between genders. Males who perceived bus frequency was not a problem were more likely to walk. Females tended to walk when viewing transportation in the city as convenient. Both findings contribute to the understanding that positive perceptions of overall mobility in the city were associated with higher odds of walking. Meanwhile, among those who did walk, those with positive attitudes towards pedestrian safety crossing streets and those perceiving traffic jams as a problem in their daily trips spent more time walking.


This paper concludes that positive broad attitudes and perceptions of overall mobility and all transport modes are related to more walking activities. A better understanding of such relationships can provide a reference point for urban policies aiming at promoting walking for transport.

Chenghe Guan, Jihoon Song, Michael Keith, Bo Zhang, Yuki Akiyama, Liangjun Da, Ryosuke Shibasaki, and Taisei Sato. 2021. “Seasonal variations of park visitor volume and park service area in Tokyo: A mixed-method approach combining big data and field observations.” Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 58, March 2021, Pp. 126973. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Urban green and open space are important components of achieving the goal of planning sustainable cities, by offering health benefits to urban dwellers and providing socio-economic and environmental benefits to society. Recent literature studied the usage of urban parks, however, few has addressed seasonal fluctuations of park visitor volume, let alone seasonal variations of home-park travel distances and park service areas. This paper not only empirically shows the seasonal variations of park visits but also examines links between the park visit patterns and spatial characteristics of the case parks. Applying spatial analysis methods to location data of over 1 million anonymous mobile phone samples collected from January to December 2011, we analyzed the seasonal variations in six medium-sized urban parks, of which size falls under the category of ‘district parks,’ in central Tokyo. We also conducted content analysis of a Japanese place review website to understand visitor perceptions of the case parks. On the other hand, park spatial characteristics data were collected and summarized through various ways including field observation and satellite image analysis. The results show that (1) while notable seasonal variations of park visitor volume and park service area existed in all case parks, the degree of variation also differed from park to park; (2) spatial characteristics of parks were closely interlinked to seasonal cultural events, to visitor perceptions, and consequently to seasonal fluctuations of the park visit patterns. Lessons learned from the policy perspective include highly diverse user groups visit these medium-sized urban parks than what the typical guidelines assume, and seasonal patterns of their visits considerably vary from park to park, interacting with spatial characteristics of the parks. Hence, the urban park planning process should consider specific and detailed characteristics of parks and allocate resources to respond to dynamic park visit patterns beyond generic guidelines.
Yingying Lyu, Ann Forsyth, and Steven Worthington. 2021. “Built environment and self-rated health: comparing young, middle-aged, and older people in Chengdu, China.” Health Environments Research & Design Journal. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Objectives: This paper explores how the building-scale built environment is associated with self-rated health, examining differences in this association among younger, middle-aged, and older age groups. Features examined included building type, building condition, and sidewalk presence in front of dwellings.
Background: Understanding how the relationships between built environments and health vary across age groups helps to build a healthy environment for all. However, most studies have concentrated on the neighborhood or indoor environment, rather than whole buildings, and few have compared age groups.
Methods: This study analyzed survey data from 1,019 adults living in 40 neighborhoods in Chengdu, China, recruited through a clustered random sampling approach. It used a Bayesian logistic mixed effects model with interaction terms between age group indicators and other variables.
Results: Significant differences exist in the relationships of self-rated health with some environmental and other indicators among age groups. For older people, living in multi-floor buildings, having a household smoker, and undertaking fewer hours of weekly exercise were associated with lower odds of reporting good, very good, or excellent health. These relationships were not identified among middle-aged and younger people. More education was associated with higher odds of reporting better health among older and middle-aged groups.
Conclusions: Older people experience more health-related challenges compared to middle-aged and younger people. However, among the examined built environmental factors, building type was the only significant factor related to self-rated health among older people. To promote health among older people, this study recommends adding elevators in the multi-floor buildings.