In celebration of Valentine's Day, let's talk about the one thing that we love more than anything: Street Transformations! We can't get enough of those Before & After shots of cities showing their streets a little love.
Over at Streetsblog USA, they love street transformations just as much as we do, and late last year, they called for nominations for the Best Urban Street Transformation in 2017. The winner was left to public vote, and we noticed some drama in the comments about the voting (some believed there was ballot-stuffing). We were impressed by all six nominees' efforts, but as a data-driven company, we couldn't help but run these blocks through our algorithm to reveal which block truly did have the biggest transformation.
Of course, everyone is entitled to their favorite transformation, but let's find out how the people's vote matches up with the data-driven approach...
Our process was simple:
- We collected data on 290+ micro-scale built environment features for each of the six nominees' transformed block: once before the transformation (using Google Street View), and then again after the transformation (using pictures and renderings).
- We ran the data through our algorithm, which uniquely quantifies the quality of place (what makes places walkable, livable, and lovable) by assigning the block a score from 0-100 (the State of Place Index).
- We compared the Before and After State of Place Index of each block to identify which block had the greatest increase in score.
Now let's see how each of the six nominees scored:
1. Albuquerque, NM, USA
How do these transformations compare?
The table below shows the greatest transformations at the top. According to the Streetsblog public voting, Halifax is the winner, and according to our analysis, Albuquerque is the winner!
Congratulations to Albuquerque!
Your center-running transit lanes and impressive sheltered waiting areas produced the greatest transformation! This addition yielded increased scores in Pedestrian & Bike Amenities, Traffic Safety, Aesthetics, and Personal Safety. Find out more about each dimension here.
So we can't say that the public vote was wrong (we love a pedestrian street as much as the next person!), but this shows that you should be objectively measuring the impact of proposals because the data may tell a different story than polls and opinions. It's valuable to focus on increasing the State of Place Index because a study by the Brookings Institution shows that for every 20 point increase in the Index, you could see an increase in office, residential, and retail rents, retail revenues, and for-sale residential values. If you find yourself wondering how the rest of the nominees' block scores break down, you can download the full report here.
Thanks to Streetsblog for hosting such a fun competition, and Happy Valentine's Day, fellow data-geeks! Keep showing love to your streets, and if you want to find the optimal plans for your city, we can get you there...