Many cities across the country, as part of Complete Streets initiatives or to promote community livability and environmental sustainability, have engaged in street improvement or transportation infrastructure upgrade projects that increase access and mobility for pedestrians and bicyclists through a reduction of on-street parking or traffic lanes. With various transportation modes competing for scarce resources (including right-of-way and transportation funding), city planners and transportation agencies often struggle with how to justify these infrastructure investments for non-motorized modes such as bicycling and walking, particularly when driving is still the predominant mode of transportation in most cities. However, very little systematic research exists to characterize the impacts on economic vitality and business activities as a result of these non-motorized infrastructure upgrade. Based on a recommendation from our external advisory board, NITC has funded research that examines whether and how these investments impact economic vitality, business activities and neighborhood equity in surrounding areas.
This proposed research project will be an add-on component to a larger national study of the economic and business impacts of street improvements for bicycle and pedestrian mobility. In original proposal, by examining multiple data sources, utilizing multiple longitudinal economic and business activity indicators (e.g., employment by industry sector, number of establishments, business revenues, etc.), and applying distributional analysis and spatially-based econometric approaches to a variety of street improvement corridors (treatment and control) in 4-5 selected study cities across the US, the study aims to accomplish two main objectives:
(i) to establish whether and how these types of investments impact economic vitality, business activities and demographic composition of surrounding neighborhoods with outcomes that are applicable to additional cities and corridors for pre-implementation assessments; and
(ii) to develop a systematic and rigorous methodological approach that is replicable to other cities and corridors for post-implementation evaluation and analysis.
With this new center grant, we will expand the work in the original project by including 1-2 additional cities and case studies, and including broader impacts on local and regional economic development opportunities and equity. Our work will provide policy makers and planners with a solid research and practical foundation as well as a robust analytical framework to strategize the implementation of a multimodal transportation network and to support non-motorized transportation infrastructure investments.