When it comes to justifying investment in public sector infrastructure, the economic benefit of improvements to the pedestrian experience have historically been hard-to-quantify, and therefore misunderstood and under-valued.
But the tide has turned, and innovative thinking around how to clearly demonstrate and objectively measure the benefits of enhanced walkability is changing perspectives — and winning acclaim from all sides.
“Counting Walking to Make Walking Count” is the catch-phrase for The Business Case for Walking: Investigating the Economic Value of Walking in the Auckland City Centre. This project, funded by Auckland Council and delivered by Boffa Miskell, MR Cagney, and Auckland Council’s Research and Monitoring Unit (RIMU) demonstrated that transport projects that deliver public realm and walkability benefits are actually losing out against projects that don’t do so because the very real transport and economic benefits of improving walkability are not captured in the way New Zealand evaluates transport projects.
Boffa Miskell’s research on Valuing the Urban Realm Toolkit was an integral part of the report.
The Business Case for Walking won a 2018 Golden Foot Award in the Understand Walking category, and has been lauded by industry experts and community pundits on social media and in the news. The awards ceremony was hosted by Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter.
Upon hearing of the win, Auckland design champion Ludo Campbell-Reid tweeted: “This seminal report by
#TeamADO #RIMu @MRCagney and @BoffaMiskell will change everything about the way we plan transport in the future.”
Later, he continued: “We must share data & research to empower decision-makers. For 50 yrs transport planners & their models have been … driving investment in the wrong mode… now is time to fight back with facts.”
The Golden Foot Walking Awards are held by Living Streets Aotearoa, and acknowledge innovative new facilities, highlight national best practise and reward ongoing commitment to walking.
“These projects have one thing in common – they’re finding new and clever ways to get Kiwis out every day being active,” Living Streets Tumuaki Tuarua Ellen Blake says.
“Some of them show communities getting together to solve problems and finding innovative, low cost solutions. Others are led by council or government agencies who ‘get’ the value of walking in building safe, sustainable communities.”
The VURT element of the project was delivered under the leadership of Stuart Houghton, along with Michael Nettleship and Olivia Johnstone; and was one of the inaugural recipients of a Boffa Miskell Research Grant in 2016.
What’s next for the Business Case for Walking?
Stuart Houghton says, “The project partners are actively taking steps towards making these insights a standard part of transport planning in New Zealand.”
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For further information please contact Stuart Houghton
9 July 2018