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Accessibility of Central Places

Germany's urban settlement system is basically characterized by its central places. They are designated as such and allocated by the respective state planning authorities in order to ensure nationwide provision of public and private facilities and services to the population, as well as the supply of workspaces within a reasonable distance.

Depending on the functions performed by a municipality in its central-locational system it assumes, also within its own surrounding area of influence, more or less extensive administrative and supply functions.

The medium-sized as well as the major regional centres shall in this context fulfill tasks and functions in the fields of education, healthcare, retail trade, and also with regard to job creation. Thus, accessibility of the medium-sized and urban centres allows statements and conclusions about the regional supply stucture, above all with respect to the social infrastructure facilities, given that for the ca. 1 000 locations fulfilling at least the functions of a medium-sized regional centre, if taking as basis the relevant equipment catalogue specifications, a similar supply of infrastructural facilities is demanded.

A period of 30 minutes is considered as a reasonable travel time to reach the nearest intermediate center. This target value is reached or even exceeded throughout Germany: Nearly 90% of the population reach the next medium-sized center already within 15 minutes by car, less than 1% of the citizens need more than the required 30 minutes car travel time


Car travel time in minutes to the next medium-sized centre
Source: Bundesinstitut für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung (BBSR) (Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development)

High and middle-level centres
Source: Plans and programmes of the Länder (states of the Federal Republic) Bundesinstitut für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung (BBSR)

Validity of the data

On the basis of the BBSR’s accessibility analyses fundamental statements on the settlement and spatial structure, or the level of infrastructure provision for the regional population can be inferred. When interpreting these factors it should be remembered that the calculated values referring to the model are either averages for spatial units (here: municipalities or municipality associations) or measuring results applying to a point of reference (centre of a municipality). Therefore, these values are not transferable to any point within a given reference surface.

By means of a route search algorithm the distances between traffic cells or municipalities are measured, in a computer model of the relevant road network, from the respective municipality centre to the nearest motorway connection in terms of car travel time per minutes.

The road network on which the accessibility analyses are based includes all major supra-local roads as well as important local connections. The single road sections are grouped into 13 different categories (reaching from slower speed urban roads to fast highways), to which average car speeds are assigned. Temporal fluctuations of traffic flow are not taken into account in this calculation.

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© 2019 - Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie, Richard-Strauss-Allee 11, 60598 Frankfurt am Main

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