NYCDOT has been a leader in transforming urban streets to improve the environment for pedestrians and bicyclists. But when they tried to evaluate the impact of street design improvements on neighborhood economies, they found no well-established, objective methodologies. Therefore, they set out to develop a new metric. Working with its consultant, DOT evaluated a number of potential measures of local economic vitality and found retail sales – specifically reported sales for street-level retail and restaurant/ food service businesses – to provide the most direct and reliable indicator of the health of local businesses.
These results provide convincing evidence that improved accessibility and a more welcoming street environment created by these projects generate increases in retail sales in the project areas.