The New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) has published a guide to measuring the economic effects of making streets more sustainable.
“From bus lanes in the Bronx to bike lanes in Manhattan to pedestrian plazas in Brooklyn, building better streets builds better businesses,” said NYCDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “With new tools to track 21st century streets, city planners can now demonstrate the bottom-line benefits of streets that work better for everyone.”
“The Economic Benefits of Sustainable Streets” contains the nation’s first set of metrics for assessing the local economic impact of complete street projects, including protected bike lanes, pedestrian plazas, select bus service (SBS) routes and other safety enhancements implemented in New York City over the last seven years, according to NYCDOT. The innovative report outlines a methodology designed to be easily replicable in other cities, states and municipalities, including the benefits of using aggregated, local business retail sales data to track neighborhood impacts; the choice of viable comparison areas to study, providing for a rigorous analysis; and tools for interpreting results to account for specific concerns such as highly-seasonal shopping patterns and business turnover, among numerous other technical factors. The report is available for download at nyc.gov/dot.
The report focuses on seven comprehensive case studies from varied projects across three boroughs, including detailed data assessments showing that traffic calming and bike lanes on Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn contributed to retail sales that significantly outpaced the neighborhood and borough averages; that pedestrian improvements at the intersection of St. Nicholas Avenue and Amsterdam Avenue led to a 48% increase in local retail sales, besting the Manhattan average; and that faster service on the Bx12 SBS along Fordham Road in the Bronx contributed to a 71% increase in sales in the years after installation, again outperforming local and borough-wide statistics. Building on earlier, project-specific efforts to study financial impacts in other cities, the report outlines for the first time how cities can assess not just traffic and safety impacts after implementing transportation projects, but changes in how people use, and shop on, safer, better-designed streets as well.
The report provides a crucial tool as more residents and business owners across the five boroughs and around the world take part in locally led efforts to design streets that are safer and work better for pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders, while boosting local businesses as well.
The economic analysis in the report focuses specifically on locally owned businesses, providing results on immediate area trends, rather than those affecting major chains, and outlining the benefits these projects brought to local business owners and commercial corridors to highlight the potential for enlisting owners’ support for further expansion of complete street projects across the city.
The new report follows the earlier DOT models for tracking impacts in “Measuring the Street,” and the recent release of “Sustainable Streets: 2013 and Beyond,” which outlined safety and mobility benefits since 2007, including the 34% drop in fatalities at re-engineered corridors and intersections; 39 new acres of safe public space created by 59 plazas and more than 365 miles of bike lanes; and 29 planned or implemented slow zones. Projects like these and more than $6 billion invested in state-of-good-repair projects on DOT infrastructure have contributed to New York City’s becoming the safest big city in the nation, with traffic fatalities dropping 30% over the last decade as redesigns lead to significant long-term reductions in crashes. For more information on the economic benefits report and all of DOT’s efforts to build safer streets that work better for all New Yorkers, visit nyc.gov/dot.