Optimising the spatial structure of cities to promote low-carbon travel is a primary goal of urban planning and construction innovation in the low-carbon era. There is a need for basic research on the structural characteristics that help to reduce motor traffic, thereby promoting energy conservation. We first review the existing literature on the influence of urban spatial structure on transport carbon dioxide emissions and summarise the influence mechanisms. We then present two low-carbon transportation oriented patterns of urban spatial structure including the traditional walking city and the modern transit metropolis, illustrated by case studies. Furthermore, we propose an improved model Green Transportation System Oriented Development (GTOD), which is an extension of traditional transit-oriented development (TOD) and includes the additional features of a walking city and an emphasis on the integration of land use with a green transportation system, consisting of the public transportation and non-auto travel system. A compact urban form, effective mix of land use and appropriate scale of block are the basic structural features of a low-carbon transportation city. However, these features are only effective at promoting low-carbon transportation when integrated with the green traffic systems. Proper integration of the urban structural system with the green space system is also required. The optimal land use/transportation integration strategy is to divide traffic corridors with wedge-shaped green spaces and limit development along the transit corridors. This strategy forms the basis of the proposed urban structural model to promote low-carbon transportation and sustainable urban growth management.
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