Nancy Smith Lea, the director of the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, said there are a host of other economic benefits associated with safer streets.
Reducing the number of lanes on a road to make room for more pedestrian or cyclist infrastructure requires less asphalt, she said, which helps recover and reduce costs over the long term.
Neighbourhoods with higher walkability scores also tend to have higher property values, Smith Lea said. That translates into greater revenues for the city through land transfer and property taxes.
Lastly, the health benefits associated with walkable communities – including reduced instances of cancer and heart disease – result in savings in the health care system.
And those are just the benefits we know about. Smith Lea said cities have traditionally done a poor job tracking all the externalities associated with re-engineering the road. She’s confident that further study would demonstrate even more positive benefits.
“We’d love to see more rigorous evaluation because we could make our case more easily,” she said.
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