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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Economic Benefits of Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT)- Reducing Placemaking: Synthesizing a New View


This paper analyzes evidence on the economic benefits of placemaking efforts that prioritize pedestrian and non-motorized access and that, at times, reduce vehicle miles traveled. The previous literature on the economic impacts of transportation has focused on theorizing and gathering evidence on ways that transportation infrastructure generates economic benefits at large geographic scales–often states or nations. That literature overlooks many of today’s transportation projects which are at the scale of a neighborhood and which typically include non-motorized transportation. The authors summarize evidence on how those more locally oriented placemaking efforts are associated with benefits that accrue to residents and firms. There is a high degree of evidence that there are economic benefits, on commercial property values, residential property values, business sentiment, and productivity, from density that are summarized as they relate to neighborhood oriented placemaking transportation policies. The authors conclude by suggesting a systems view of metropolitan transportation that has a hierarchy of networks, from high-throughput metropolitan arteries to local, multi-modal, neighborhood planning with connections between the different levels of the system.

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