Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 69 ›› Issue (10): 1496-1509.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201410009

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Evolution, accessibility of road networks in China and dynamics:From a long perspective

Chengjin WANG1(), Wei WANG1,2, Jingjuan JIAO1,2, Jiajia CHENG1,2   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100039, China
  • Received:2013-12-10 Revised:2014-06-21 Online:2014-10-20 Published:2014-10-20
  • Supported by:
    Exploratory Forefront Project for the Strategic Science Plan in IGSNRR, CAS, No.2012QY004;Key Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. KZZD-EW-06-02;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41171108


Before the emergence of modern transport modes, the traditional road infrastructure and road transport (carriage) was a widely used land transport mode, and became a major approach to complete the nationwide social and economic exchanges throughout all historical periods. But the long-term evolution of transport infrastructure is an important studying topic, which has received little research attention. Under this background, this paper, choosing the national road as the studying subject, and taking 3500 years from 1600 BC to 1900 AD as the studying period and designing the model of shortest distance path, aims to examine the developing regularities of traditional road network in a long-term dimension, involving the expansion of spatial network, network structure and accessibility, and developing dynamics. Our analysis reveals long-term regularities: the continuously expanding road network, which experiences four phases with different developing features and spatial pattern, follows a path of inland expansion especially to border areas and brings the peripheral region much closer to the core area of China's homeland, but its coverage and accessibility is characterized by 'concentric rings' and 'core-peripheral' configuration, and the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River has been the core region. The development and evolution of traditional road network has close relationship with the national defense and warfare, centralization of national power around the capital, homeland governance, the postal transport, and specialized cargo and trade transport. This research pays attention to a long-term pattern and attempts to fill the gap of extant literatures, to deeply and better understand the evolving regularities of transport infrastructure network and China's homeland development.

Key words: China, road network, evolution, accessibility, dynamics