Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Regional Science

The Formation of Urban Hierarchies Ib Remote Peripheral Regions: The Case of la reunion"/La Formation Des Hierarchies Urbaines Dans Les Regions Ultra-Peripheriques: Le Cas De la Reunion

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Regional Science

The Formation of Urban Hierarchies Ib Remote Peripheral Regions: The Case of la reunion"/La Formation Des Hierarchies Urbaines Dans Les Regions Ultra-Peripheriques: Le Cas De la Reunion

Article excerpt

Over the last few years, the increasing dissociation between work places, residential areas and leisure areas has modified contemporary urban spaces. The growing number of commuting trips between these places appear as important elements that should be taken into account within a prospective analysis on regional and transport planning. Hence, this is the reason why many researchers focus on the relation between these daily movements and a particular region's transport infrastructure, its different services of proximity or even the growing diversification of its urban and environmental amenities.

Today, these analyses have been primarily restricted to the study of the major European and North-Americans urban centres where commuting trips represent an important movement. Through the study of La Reunion, this article aims to deal with insular spaces. These are spaces characterized by a geographical specificity, i.e. a land-sea discontinuity which results in relative isolation. The effects of this isolation on economic and urban development as well as on regional planning are quite important.

The purpose of this article is to understand whether insularity, taken as a specific type of macroeconomic environment, influences the appearance of a regional urban hierarchy and, through this, the volume and the spatial geometry of the commuting trips that develop between the different urban centres of an island. In the case of La Reunion, such an analysis has the potential to have an important impact on institutional decisions concerning transport planning. Since the beginning of the 1990s, La Reunion has experienced very important traffic bottlenecks which appear to be a real constraint for long-term economic development.

This article studies the rank-size distribution of the La Reunion's urban centres using a Lotka power-law model. This allows one to consider the long-term demographic trends which have led to the appearance of a polycentric region, where medium size towns have grown rapidly. However, this type of diffuse urban growth has not gone hand in hand with diffuse economic growth or attractiveness. On the contrary, economic growth is highly concentrated in two separate poles, Saint Denis and the Port. This is a direct consequence of insularity and leads to an important increase of commuting trips and traffic congestion. The asymmetric geometry of this urban migration is analyzed through a gravity model.

Cet article propose de transposer les analyses contemporaines sur la formation des hierarchies urbaines et l'apparition des lois rang-taille, jusque-la essentiellement reservees a l'etude des processus d'urbanisation europeens et nord-americains, aux espaces ultra-peripheriques et insulaires. A travers l'examen du cas de l'ile de La Reunion, le travail engage cherche a etudier les effets-structure de l'ultra-periphericite sur le comportement de localisation et de deplacement des menages et par la-meme sur la formation d'une hierarchie urbaine regionale. Ce travail est cense, par-la, contribuer au debat actuel entre les institutions locales de cette ile, concernant la mise en place des infrastructures de transport les plus adequates pour repondre aux importants problemes de congestion routiere.

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Durant ces dernieres annees, de nombreux travaux en economie regionale se developpent autour des themes, a la fois anciens et novateurs, de l'organisation spatiale des villes (Glaeser et al 1995 ; Huriot et Thisse 2000 ; Roncayolo 2001), des processus de metropolisation (Derycke et al 1996 ; Lacour et Puissant 1999), de la formation des hierarchies urbaines (Krugman 1996 ; Brakman et al 1999), ainsi que de l'apparition de dysfonctionnements urbains tels que la saturation des axes de transport liee aux effets de congestion (Fujita et Thisse 2003) ou la segregation residentielle des quartiers resultant de la pression fonciere (Blondel et Marchand 1997 ; Brueckner 2000) et de la fiscalite locale (Ludema et Wooton 1998 ; Mauer et Ott 1999). …

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