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Copenhagen, Denmark: Cycle counters on Nørrebrogade bridge track the number of riders per day and year in a city where 45% of all journeys to places of work or education are made by cycle.
What to Measure
Measurements can focus on physical and operational changes, shifts in use, as well as their resulting impacts. The tables in Appendix B list potential measurements to evaluate the impact of street projects of various scales. Measure as much as possible, but be strategic in prioritizing time and resources to collect the metrics that most relate to the project goals and community interests.
Once relevant metrics are identified, measure the same categories for the project before and after implementation.
Use the variation between the two sets of data to examine the changes to the street condition, to measure shifts in use and function, and to evaluate the resulting impacts.
Benchmark variations and net changes against prior conditions, other project sites, control areas, citywide data, or other cities, nationally and internationally.
There are three main categories of metrics discussed in this chapter:
Every metric will not be applicable to all street projects or all contexts. Each community must determine its own priorities and adopt measurements that are relevant and appropriate to the project scale, whether it is an intersection, a street, a corridor, or a neighborhood network project. Some metrics listed are based on commonly available quantitative and qualitative information, while others will need to be collected through agreed-upon methodologies and site surveys.
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
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
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:
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.
1. AARP, Evaluating Complete Streets Projects: A guide for practitioners (Washington, DC: AARP, 2015), accessed June 7, 2016, http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/documents/evaluating-complete-streets-projects.pdf.
2. New York City Department of Transportation. Measuring the Street: New Metrics for 21st Century Streets (New York, NY:NYC DOT, 2012).
US Environmental Protection Agency. Guide to Sustainable Transportation Performance Measures (Washington, DC: EPA, 2011).
Adapted by Global Street Design Guide published by Island Press.
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