Identify Existing Data
Work with local stakeholders to identify the types of data already available and collate this data to provide a basis for potential evaluation. Identify opportunities to add questions to existing surveys that are already being conducted, or include new metrics in other stakeholder collection methods.
Consider the following examples as opportunities to investigate local data sources that might relate to streets
- Local, regional, and national census data or similar surveys might include traffic volumes, major street conditions, and mode share information. They can also include surveys of businesses, residents, retailers, and tourists.
- Police and hospitals track traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries.
- Public health agencies often conduct community health surveys, tracking chronic and respiratory disease rates and daily physical activity levels.
- Insurance agencies track crash rates and hospital admissions.
- Environmental groups and agencies measure water and air quality.
- Advocacy associations, organizations, and academic institutions often maintain a range of data sources.
- Realtors collect information on property values.
- Local governments often have information on tax revenues, property values, and crash statistics.
- Business groups may maintain data on pedestrian volumes and sales.
- Phone call-in systems sometimes collect self-reported street-related issues from citizens.
Develop a Performance Metrics System
Measuring the performance of a street is a complex exercise as each street is different and must serve many needs and functions.2
- Develop a performance measurement system that reflects local priorities and allows for flexibility over time.
- Identify the metrics that will be most easily measured.
- Develop data collection protocols and inventory sheets, determine consistent times and frequencies, and establish ratings that reflect priorities.
- Train local staff and professionals to embed these in local processes and build capacity.
- Maintain consistency, communicate results, and refine the process over time.
When relevant data does not exist, identify appropriate methodologies for measuring the condition, function, use, and impact of streets. Identify processes
that are efficient and cost-effective.
Quantitative and qualitative metrics are necessary and equally important to measure the various impacts of a project. Counts are helpful for metrics such as user volumes and speeds, but a great deal can be learned from talking to people using the street and conducting surveys of local residents, business owners, and visitors.
Methodologies can include:
- Before-and-after photographs.
- Imaging data such as aerial photos,time-lapse photos, and videos.
- On-site user perceptions, surveys, or manual counters. Test draft surveys and prioritize questions to match the expected time for responses, whether quick 5-minute interviews or longer 15-minute household surveys. Note locations where surveys were conducted.
- Automated data collection through devices such as Automated Traffic Recorders.
- Crowd-sourced data such as call-in logs and mobile phone GPS data.
When to Measure
Collect data before and after a project to provide comparisons and capture impacts.
Collect measurements during different seasons, at various hours of the day, and during weekends and weekdays to be able to comprehensively compare how the use and function of the street changes after project implementation.
When measuring longer-term changes in function, use, and performance, measurements should be collected after multiple months and years for reliable comparison.
For the most accurate comparisons, be consistent with locations when collecting measurements, as well as times and durations when measuring use and function.
Before-and-after photographs are helpful in reminding people what is possible. Be sure to match views carefully and crop to concentrate on the area of interest.