Measuring the Value of Livable Streets

observer_graphic.gifEver wonder how much New York stands to gain by making its streets more livable? Transportation Alternatives has been gathering evidence measuring the economic and social benefits that accrue when cities put pedestrians first. Their report is coming out next week, but the Observer published a sneak preview (headline: "The Woonerf Deficit") this Tuesday:

The Dutch call it a woonerf — a “livable street” resplendent
with wide sidewalks, ample retail, greenery and minimal automobile
traffic. It’s designed to boost quality of life for citizenry, the till
for retailers and property values for landowners. Perhaps you’ve
noticed that New York City doesn’t have many woonerfs amid its warren
of streets, which make up one-fourth of the city’s land area.

But what if it did?

Retail sales and property values would jump;
pollution and noise would drop; and contentment among those lucky
enough to live near or on a livable street would abound.

The full report promises to raise a lot of good questions. One leaps to mind already: Given the rewards to be reaped from more pedestrian-oriented streets and less traffic, will the city continue to enable cardependent projects in the pursuit of its goals for housing and economic development? 

Graphic courtesy of the Observer; click through for full version.

  • I’m glad to see this in Observer, but I’d be more excited if it was in a less hoity-toity paper. It seems like the rich neighborhoods get all of the cool livable streets types of improvements first. Why is it so hard to get AM New York or the Daily News to pick up on these concepts?

  • We need more of this kind of economics. This forward thinking is pushed out the accounting-dominated thinking in the debate over the amount spent on roads vs public transit.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Cartoon Tuesday: Captain Car-Free

|
Today is World Carfree Day, and though we somehow let it slip by us, NotionsCapital reappropriated this classic comic to promote events down DC way. They’re not super heroes per se, but in the livable streets universe, David Byrne, Janette Sadik-Khan and Paul Steely White are about as close as they come. You can catch […]

A Citywide Prescription for Livable Streets

|
"Streets to Live By" marshals data from several cities to make the case for investing in livable streets in New York. Today Transportation Alternatives released "Streets to Live By" [PDF], the report previewed last week in the Observer. It seeks to define what makes a street livable and to synthesize a broad range of data, […]

“Lock Box” Provides $39M for Livable Streets, Ferries, BRT

|
Last week Streetsblog reported on the Traffic Commission’s proposal to create a "Livable Streets Lock Box" fund from parking revenue and taxi surcharges generated in the congestion pricing zone. If created, the fund could become a substantial new source of money for bicycle, pedestrian and public space projects in New York City. The fund would […]

Times Square: Livable Streets Mecca, Retail Sensation

|
Two years after Mayor Bloomberg and NYC DOT remade Times Square, the city’s premiere public space is one of the world’s leading shopping destinations. Crain’s reports that annual rankings from international real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield place Times Square among the ten most desirable retail locations on the planet, topped in New York only […]

CB12 Committee Asks DOT for Dyckman Greenway Connector Study

|
Nine months after Inwood residents first proposed a physically separated bike lane for Dyckman/200th Street, connecting the east- and west-side Greenways, this week the Community Board 12 Traffic and Transportation Committee approved a resolution calling for DOT to "test the feasibility" of such a project. CB12 action was considered necessary to gain the involvement of […]