It’s almost Valentine’s Day! While, for most people, that means dolling out copious amounts of cash on indulgent dinners and fanciful flowers, us placelovers and datageeks at State of Place are saving our love for streets - we especially have a special place in our hearts for those “ugly ducklings” who have worked hard to transform themselves into loveable places! That’s why this week, we collected data on some of the best street makeovers profiled by someone else we heart - the folks over at Streetsblog USA and quantified just how much the extra “TLC” shown to these streets increased their State of Place Index! While this is indeed a redux, we wanted to give this post some love - again - to highlight how these transformations are more than just catchy eye candy.
These before/after makeovers are not just the equivalent of a Marie Kondo approved transformation. Although, they certainly DO spark joy!, they actually can mean the difference between life and death. You see, if you’ve been following our Design for Our Lives blog series on the link between urban design and safety, you know that improvements to the built environment (as quantified by our State of Place Index) impact the probability of collisions - in fact, a one point increase on the State of Place Index reduces the odds of a collision by 12.3% on average! So we thought it was important to once again highlight these awesome, lovable streets, but with a renewed focus on how the changes they made can save lives! So please check out these six - now loveable - streets, managed to increase their State of Place Index by a combined average of XX points, which reduces their probability of a collision by XX%! We hope this inspires you to take action to get started on your street - safety - makeover, STAT!
Quantifying before/after “Love”
Here’s how we quantified the impact of these six loveable street transformations - the same way we can help you quantify your own street improvement efforts (which we can also tie to potential ROI to help you make the investment case for these kinds of projects to begin with!):
We collected data on 290+ micro-scale built environment features for each of the six transformed blocks: 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 quality of place (what makes places walkable, livable, and lovable) by aggregating these nearly 300 data points into 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
Central Ave NW From New York Ave NE to Tingle Dr SW.
Click here to get the full report and see how these scores break down.
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...