Performance Metrics for Streets

Cities are dropping older street design & network  models based solely on moving automobiles in favor of emerging new metrics for streets that serve mulitple uses and users.

Benefits & Problems Addressed

Balanced transportation systems: A sole focus on car travel produced impacts beyond the street as traffic volume, congestion and parking needs 

Moving more travelers: Moving cars, often with a sole occupant, is not the same as moving people. 

Safety: redesigning streets to favor movement over delayed intersections can reduce speeds and enhance safety. 

Lower infrastructure costs: Reprogramming space for multiple modes & functions reduces wear & tear from heavy vehicles and a higher return on investment per square foot of infrastructure. 

Beyond Level of Service: LOS, the traditional performance measure guiding street design, only measured delay for motorists, and often produced negative impacts  such as wider, unsafe roads for all travelers.

Tips & Techniques

Define your street's users & uses: Pedestrians, auto drivers, emergency responders, freight/delivery, transit, mobile commerce. Uses include travel, commerce, stormwater management & landscaping, signage, gathering places. utilities, 

Set a hierarchy of goals:  A wider set of street design goals include safety, accommodate all users, accomodate mulitple uses in the rights of way, create great public spaces, resilient streets.

Strategies for challenges & opportunities:  Use data/mapping to detet the most common safety and hotspot problems. Common measurable strategies for lessening congestion and enhancing other community goals includes (1) increasing bus & transit service, (2) safer intersection design, (3) managing streetside parkign & loading, (4) increasing rideshare, (5) absorbent landscaping.

Metrics that matter: (1) Pedestrians: Minimal delay at crossings, foot traffic volume; left hand turn bans (2) Bicyclists: injuries/fatalities counts and locations, bicycle counts; (3) Transit: on-time performance, Ridership per revenue hour, operating cost per hour; (4) Freight & delivery: freight counts by hour, location & type of vehicle, time spent loading/unloading; (5) Multi-objective: sidewalk activity, storm water volume captured & treated, emergency response times and access.

Resources & Examples

Measuring the Street: New Metrics for 21st Century Streets in NYC - New York, NY US, 2012

 Urban Street Design Guide - National Association of City Transportation Officials

Metropolitan Transportation Plan Data Source Guide, Orlando FL 2020