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Unit 2: The rationale behind impact assessment of urban mobility projects

Unit 2: The rationale behind impact assessment of urban mobility projects

by Kristin Tovaas -
Number of replies: 17

Please share your responses to the unit 2 questions here.

In reply to Kristin Tovaas

Re: Unit 2: The rationale behind impact assessment of urban mobility projects

by Deleted user -

I wouldn’t consider some of the effects mentioned in the list because they are not directly linked with the transport projects, they could only be secondary effects. These are: real estate value, water pollution, soil pollution, visual intrusion and vibration.

There are other effects to consider because their linkage with the transport is immediate. These are the effects related to environment (CO2 emissions, local noise pollution, and local air quality), to the users (image, safety, comfort user perception, commercial attractiveness, quality of life and health), to the transport system itself (travel time, modal distribution) and to energy (energy security).

Finally, I would consider all the effects related to economic issues, both from the user side (tax, employment) and from the transport system as a business (maintenance costs, revenue, operation cost and investment cost).

Furthermore, I think that there are other effects that should be considered as those related to the energetic resources to be used in the transport: kind of fuels (fossil fuels, electricity, human power), efficiency, origin (renewable or not). That’s because there is a challenge in our cities related to the energy saving and the minimization of fossil fuels.

And from the social point of view, I would consider equity. I mean the outreach of the service to all citizens, by price and spatial distribution of the lines.

In reply to Kristin Tovaas

Re: Unit 2: The rationale behind impact assessment of urban mobility projects

by Deleted user -

Second task.

The impact assessment in Vitoria-Gasteiz is more similar to the multi-criteria analysis but adapted to each of the measures deployed. The criterion used is the fulfilment of the goal pursued by the measure and is assessed in a quantitative way. For example, last year we started to implement a traffic calming scheme in some streets and the factor evaluated after the implementation was the traffic speed (before and after) because the objective was to limit the speed of the vehicles to 30 km/h. Or after the deployment of the bicycle lanes, the measured factor is the number of bike users in the new lanes. In this sense, the methods are perceived as useful.

The method explained above is related to concrete mobility measures but, after five years of the implementation of the Sustainable Mobility & Public Space Plan, we did a participation process to gather the user feedback. This is more a qualitative analysis but equally useful.

Furthermore, we do a mobility survey in a regular basis to know the current modal split and its changes through the time. This is perhaps the more valid method but not to evaluate a single measure but the complete urban transport strategy. But it is expensive and we can’t do it frequently.

There are other specific analysis such as “Analysis of the cycling accident rate in Vitoria-Gasteiz 2008-2011” http://www.google.es/url?q=http://www.conama2012.conama.org/web/generico.php%3Fidpaginas%3D%26lang%3Des%26menu%3D257%26id%3D34%26op%3Dview&sa=U&ei=v7SaU6XHCuXI0AXbjYDgAQ&ved=0CBYQFjAA&sig2=xRzOdxs09QMmYMrP5k-h7w&usg=AFQjCNHNOvtbVQHFlH0hgBMoFzzsBZBkHg (in Spanish). Even, two years ago, a kind of cost-benefit analysis was conducted: “Economic-environmental assessment of the first phase of Sustainable Mobility and Public Space Plan in Vitoria-Gasteiz”. This paper tried to monetise the benefits (direct and indirect) derived for the Plan. The outcomes were very interesting but it is difficult to give a market value to all the effects that must be taken into account.

In reply to Deleted user

Re: Unit 2: The rationale behind impact assessment of urban mobility projects

by Deleted user -

Dear Maía,

Thanks a lot for sharing the information about your city with us. To test the achievements according to the objectives of the measure sounds important and straightforward. However, I think if one looks only at one indicator (e.g. travel speed changes) one might overlook other (unintended) side effects. 

Do you conduct any assessment before implementation of a specific measure (e.g. to test which measure is best  to achieve the intended effects and maybe yields positive side effects)?

I'm very interested in the cost-benefit analysis you mentioned. I think the difficulties that you mentioned about monetizing  all effects is a typical problem for CBAs in urban transport planning. This results in a lack of detailed knowledge and evidence for the cost and benefits (especially the 'soft' ones) of sustainable mobility and urban planning and sometimes when it comes to budget distribution the smaller sustainable transport measure 'loose' against traditional car-centred measures, which promise high return on investments in a conventional CBA. 

Hanna 

In reply to Deleted user

Re: Unit 2: The rationale behind impact assessment of urban mobility projects

by Deleted user -

Dear Hanna:

Do you conduct any assessment before implementation of a specific measure?

We base the decision about the measures to implement in the experience and the knowledge of the technicians and as a copy of the measures we see in other cities or in previous experiences in our city. This can be considered as a kind of assessment but not in a formal/quantifiable way.

In relation to the CBA, if you can introduce in the calculation the benefits on the health of citizens and the costs savings in health services, the "smaller transport measures" don't lose; at least not always!

María 

In reply to Deleted user

Re: Unit 2: The rationale behind impact assessment of urban mobility projects

by Deleted user -

Dear María,

Kain Glensor here, Hanna's colleague at the Wuppertal Institute.

You mention the health cost savings as a relevant factor. We touched on this at one stage in our work, and thought that it was likely that internal (inter-departmental) politics might start to play a role in such cases. By that we mean if the transport department leads the assessment, they might not, to use your example, have much/any interested in decreasing the costs of another department.

I'd be interested if you have had any experience with the inter-departmental politics aspect of such assessments? It seems that it hasn't been a problem for you, I'd also be interested if that's because you have some active strategy to avoiding, or if things just work out! 

Regards,

Kain

In reply to Deleted user

Re: Unit 2: The rationale behind impact assessment of urban mobility projects

by Deleted user -

Dear Kain:

The lack of interdepartmental coordination is something usual. But in our city council, we do a effort to coordinate the work in order to achieve some common objectives. Sometimes it works and sometimes not!

In the field of the health, there is a municipal strategy: "Programme of health promotion". The main responsible of the programme is the Health Service but supported by other municipal departments. And there is a working group composed of experts from different departments that meets from time to time.

We try to take advantage of synergies in specific measures. For example, if we do a course of safe bycicle driving for schoolars, we promote both the aspect of improving health and sustainable mobility.

María

In reply to Deleted user

Re: Unit 2: The rationale behind impact assessment of urban mobility projects

by Deleted user -

Dear Maria (and all),

You mentioned that you look at the effects of the measures in other cities. This is field that we are know working on in another project called EVIDENCE (see Bonnie's  forum thread on that). We are collected studies that assessed the economic, social and environmental effects of measures and evaluate the results to come up with a database of scientifically proven evidence. I think such a database will be a great tool for cities.  

Hanna

In reply to Kristin Tovaas

Re: Unit 2: The rationale behind impact assessment of urban mobility projects

by Deleted user -

Unit 2 - First Task.-

I would include all concepts showed at the graphic, since all of them are relevant effects that need to be considered. However I would like highlight the following as the most relevant:

Real state value.- Since urban mobility systems always affect their environment and affect urban land value and land uses. The relationship between urban mobility and transport has been widely studied, with a variety of findings that massively conclude that especially urban mobility infrastructure is a great attractor of economic activities that will influence variation of land and property values and uses.

Safety.- A Transit Oriented Development (TOD) has one of the pillars safety for citizens, focusing on pedestrians, user of non-motorized modes and public transport. In consequence, safety is one of the key concepts to evaluate any plan, programme and/or project to find out the effects on the overall city´s urban mobility.

Quality of life.- If we agree that urban mobility is a great enabler of urban development of any city, so that it allows accessibility to employment, housing, services (education, health) and entertainment, then; urban mobility must be considered a “human right” to get quality of life. Therefore, urban mobility outcomes must be evaluated on terms of quality of life.  

In reply to Kristin Tovaas

Re: Unit 2: The rationale behind impact assessment of urban mobility projects

by Deleted user -

Unit 2 - Second Task.-

La Paz is a city that has conducted 24 studies regarding urban mobility and transport systems. Of those, only two has been devoted to impact studies of already delivered projects. However, others are studies that prognosticate the future outcomes of urban mobility developments in the city. For instance effects on BRT systems in relation to the economy of informal-service operators, etc.

Regarding the methods used, it is CBA, however in some recent experiences such as the implementation of the TELEFERICO LA PAZ-EL ALTO (cableway), the main analysis to quantify and measure “all” variables was conducting an MCA, so that the variables can be part of the overall  analysis. Nevertheless, the subjectivity of this method is put into question. The difficulties are related to the manner of scoring, weighting of effects that are totally subjective. 

In reply to Kristin Tovaas

Re: Unit 2: The rationale behind impact assessment of urban mobility projects

by Deleted user -

Impressive to see how many factors are involved.

Most important factors to me are those related to the quality of life (local air quality, Vibration, safety, health and the called polutions). To me economic factors are less important, as the problem to be solved is not a life threatening problem. I admit costs for  investment and maintenance are important, but real estate value, revenue, tax, visual intrusion, etc. are factors of (too much) wealth. I think economic factors have played a decisive role in plans that 'destroy' our planet too long already. Now it is time to think of what the whole idea of a society is: the wellbeing of their participants. Let's go for health, because it is more important than wealth (ask rich people who are seriously ill). 

In reply to Deleted user

Re: Unit 2: The rationale behind impact assessment of urban mobility projects

by Deleted user -

Dear Bert,

I agree with you in general, but I think the arguments about economic factors assume the residents all have sufficient wealth to meet their fundamental needs, and that they have sufficient mobility (in the classic sense, i.e. ability to get to jobs, grocery stores etc.).

As far as I know poverty is typically associated with ill health, poverty reduction could be the best way to improve people's health, depending on the starting point. That's not to say I think the solution to that is roads, but I think ignoring the interaction between wealth and the transport system won't always result in the best outcome.

In reply to Deleted user

Re: Unit 2: The rationale behind impact assessment of urban mobility projects

by Deleted user -

Dear Kain,

Thank you for your reaction. I agree with you that poverty reduction can help in improving people's health, but I do not think mobility is a sine qua non for health. I do not ignore interaction between wealth and transport system, but I do think that there is a point where more mobility does not improve your wealth, and in my opinion in the Netherlands we have no need of any more roads, because they only change the place where the queue starts. 

kind regards,

Bert

In reply to Deleted user

Re: Unit 2: The rationale behind impact assessment of urban mobility projects

by Deleted user -

Dear Bert,

I'm speculating here, but I imagine there is a similar relationship between mobility and wealth, and between wealth and health: both increase together to a certain point, beyond which the relationship weakens or even reverses. As a bit of clarification, recently I have been working on projects for the developing world, and reading articles on the situation in parts of the USA (for some social groups), where the situation is quite different to the Netherlands.

I think we can both agree that even if mobility is the limiting factor, that it could and should be better increased through cycling or other modes than by just building roads for cars, especially considering the long-term aspects!

The main thing I wanted to express was that the conditions are different everywhere, and that one should try to keep the assessments as wide and as open as possible to ensure the overall best outcome. I'm convinced that by doing so, the results will reflect peoples' needs, regardless of the starting conditions.

Best regards,

Kain

In reply to Deleted user

Re: Unit 2: The rationale behind impact assessment of urban mobility projects

by Deleted user -

Dear Kain,

I agree that mobility plays an important role in health and wealth, but as you say: until a certain level. In my opinion in the Netherlands we have reached the level where more mobility does not contribute to more wealth anymore and certainly not to more health.

I agree also that conditions are different and in some regions a lot can (and must) be done to improve circumstances of living. I only object to the fixed thinking of 'more is better', but I know the situation in the Netherlands is very well developed.

Best regards,

Bert

In reply to Kristin Tovaas

Re: Unit 2: The rationale behind impact assessment of urban mobility projects

by Deleted user -

Dear all,

It is interesting to read your responses on the different effects which you consider at all, and those which you consider especially important.

Real estate value is a great example of an effect which has divided opinion, and thus, which shows that it is useful for an assessment method to be able to reflect local priorities/goals.

Keep the responses coming in!

Kain

In reply to Kristin Tovaas

Re: Unit 2: The rationale behind impact assessment of urban mobility projects

by Deleted user -

I think that you shouldn’t consider all the effects in your impact assessment. You usually have a budget and you have to keep the works inside this budget, so you have to choose those effects that will have a stronger impact on the target population. If you try to deal with all the effects, you can fall in a dangerous situation: Deal with everything but in a poor manner.

It depends on the type of project, with some compulsory effects. If you are thinking of changing a busy street with light rail and street calming, perhaps you should focus on travel time, modal distribution, safety, noise, air quality, CO2 emissions, real state value, but you could pay less attention to water pollution, energy security, soil pollution, etc. I am sure that this is a bit simplified, but it could serve as an example.

Of course, there are some effects you have to consider always: Investment costs, maintenance costs, operation costs, etc.

I am convinced that if you need the general population aproval, you need to focus on every group benefits, so you have to find the more affected groups and try to assess the impact in their lifes or business. Its very different a street in the historical centre of the city than in a suburb.

In reply to Kristin Tovaas

Re: Unit 2: The rationale behind impact assessment of urban mobility projects

by Jelena Nikolić -

The problem in my city, is that no one dealt with the analysis and solving problems in traffic. Basically, all the investments was just a “ make-up” of individual parts of the city (whether urban or rural part). Decision makers are generally cared only about looks of existing roads. Of course, image, visual intrusion and user perception, are interesting effect, but not the most important. If the target is tourist attractiveness, than special attention focuses on look.  

For choosing the measure for solving the problem, it should take into consideration travel time, safety, quality of life and impact on environment (air quality, noise, vibration, CO2 emission).

What kind of measure will be implemented, depends on economic factors (investment and maintenance cost). It should also take into account the equal development of the city and real estate value.