Seattle Vision Zero Street Improvements to Reduce Traffic Related Injuries and Deaths: What is the Economic Impact to Local Businesses?
Osterhage, Daniel R
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Vision Zero is a road safety project, originating in Sweden, with the goal of eliminating all road traffic fatalities and injuries through street design changes.(1)(2) While proven to lead to improved safety, city transportation planners often meet opposition from business owners when implementing Vision Zero projects.(3) Many business owners oppose Vision Zero safety projects because of the belief that changes to adjacent roads will negatively impact sales.(3) The City of Seattle adopted a Vision Zero program in 2015 with the goal of ending all traffic related deaths and injuries by 2030. While Vision Zero brought a new name to and expanded scope for street design safety projects, Seattle implemented Vision Zero type safety projects decades before the uptake of the new program.(1) This research seeks to better define the relationship between Seattle’s past Vision Zero road treatments and their impact on the economic vitality of retail, food, and service based businesses in Seattle. The study selected seven diverse Vision Zero projects throughout Seattle and gathered the taxable sales data for the surrounding retail, food, and service based businesses. For each study location, 2-3 matched locations, that did not have Vision Zero treatments within the study timeframe, were selected to compare taxable sales data trends. The larger geographic area in which study and control sites are located acted as an additional comparison for study sites. Data analysis consisted of aggregated trend analyses and t-tests. The results found no negative impact on economic vitality for adjacent retail, food, and service businesses in all seven of the Vision Zero study sites. Three sites showed significant positive impacts. These findings suggest that Vision Zero improvements may have a neutral or positive economic impact on adjacent retail, food, and service businesses. This research serves to inform transportation practitioners and implementers in Seattle about the economic impacts of Vision Zero projects on businesses. Better information about Vision Zero economic impacts will set expectations, ease tensions, and possibly move the implementation of projects forward to achieve the Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic related injuries and fatalities
- Urban planning