This project was funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC).
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. There is a vital need to understand whether and how these investments impact economic vitality, business activities and neighborhood equity in surrounding areas.
By examining multiple data sources (e.g., Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) employment data, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) employment and wages data, retail sales tax data, and National Establishment Time Series (NETS) employment and sales data), utilizing multiple analytic approaches (e.g., aggregated trend analysis, difference-in-difference (DID), interrupted time series (ITS) analysis, and distributional analysis) on seven corridors within four selected study cities across the U.S. (Portland, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Memphis), this 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.
While we observed some mixed results, we generally found that street improvements have either positive impacts on corridor economic and business performance or non-significant impacts. More importantly, this multicity multiapproach exploration allowed the authors to focus on a broader perspective than the individual findings in each corridor or city - detailed comparisons of the different available data sources and methodologies to elucidate the advantages, disadvantages and challenges of conducting research in this field. This study provides policymakers 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 investment.
Liu, Jenny H. and Shi, Wei. Understanding Economic and Business Impacts of Street Improvements for Bicycle and Pedestrian Mobility – A Multicity Multiapproach Exploration. NITC-RR-1031/1161. Portland, OR: Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC), 2020. https://doi.org/10.15760/trec.248