Many Complete Streets projects are being planned and implemented across Ontario. Since 2014, The Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT), Ryerson University and the University of Toronto have worked together to develop tools to improve the capacity of the GGH municipalities to deliver these projects. These tools have included the Complete Streets Catalogue and Complete Street Transformations in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
In this report, Complete Streets Evaluation, we focus on the state of practice, challenges and opportunities related to the evaluation of Complete Streets projects. Collecting data on project performance can further our understanding of the true benefits of these initiatives. This evidence will also help municipalities in justifying future active transportation programs and projects in terms of their cost-benefit trade-offs.
What to evaluate?
We adopted the evaluation framework proposed by McCann and Rynne (2010), and conceptualized the results/performances of a Complete Street in terms of outputs and outcomes.
The outputs of Complete Street project are the key measures of the enhancements that get built and are expected to have positive impacts. Project outputs could include the number of kilometres of bicycle lanes, the distance of sidewalk improvements, intersection improvements (e.g. bike boxes, sidewalk bulb-outs, pedestrian scramble), and the number of trees planted.
However, the key goal of a project performance evaluation is to establish a cause-effect relationship between what is being built (i.e., the outputs) and the desired outcomes. The outcomes of a project are the effects or the impacts that we observe resulting from a Complete Street project’s outputs (i.e., causes) as experienced by citizens, and road users on the surrounding environment.
In order to produce a comprehensive list of measureable outcomes or performance indicators, a total of 26 (22 USA and 4 Canadian) Complete Streets Policies, Active Transportation Plans and other relevant documents were reviewed, and the project-level outcome performance indicators identified in these documents were classified into four broad goals: