Saturday, August 16 2008 @ 09:44 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
In the U.S., the livability movement is nothing short of a sea change in government transportation policies that have been singularly focused on motor vehicles for decades. The driving force of this movement continues to be a growing recognition of the economic and environmental costs of existing policy and a search for alternatives. Livable streets encourage walking, cycling and transit trips, cut into these costs and also advance important societal goals. London’s Walking Plan, for example, argues that walking contributes to “health and well-being” and to the “vibrancy” of the city, while other programs point to benefits such as a stronger sense of community.
The economic benefits of livable streets, despite their growing importance in transportation policy planning, are presently not well understood. This is due in part to a paucity of research: there have been almost no published studies in the U.S. on economic impacts, and only a handful in Europe. In addition, it has been difficult to untangle the specific impact of measures such as new pedestrian amenities or parking regulations from other civic improvements put in place simultaneously.
Livable streets have demonstrated the following effects on local economies:
• Pedestrian zones in city centers have boosted foot traffic by 20-40% and retail sales by 10-25%.
• Property values have increased by nearly one-third after traffic calming measures were installed.
• Property values on quiet streets are generally higher than those on noisy streets. In the extreme, the value of a house on a quiet street would be 8-10% higher than the same house on a noisy street.
• Public recreational and gathering space increases property values. Apartment prices near community gardens in New York City are 7% higher than comparable apartments in the same neighborhood.