Seattle/ Science, Tech & Medicine
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Published on March 01, 2024
University of Washington Study Finds Seattle's Vision Zero Projects Pose No Threat to Local Business RevenueSource: Unsplash/Andrew Gook

In a striking revelation that counters the fears of many local entrepreneurs, a study by the University of Washington has laid to rest concerns surrounding the economic impact of road safety projects in Seattle, which are part of the ambitious Vision Zero initiative aiming to obliterate traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030; the research indicates that businesses have little to worry about their bottom lines. According to UW News, these safety interventions ranging from expanded bike networks and overhauled intersections to bolstered pedestrian crossings, have shown no significant negative economic effects on the local businesses in the aftermath of their implementation.

Typically, such infrastructure projects draw skepticism from shopkeepers fearing reduced parking and altered traffic, which can deflect customers, but the research comprising seven such safety projects presented a different narrative with annual revenues for nearby businesses not taking a hit, over a three-year span, post-construction. As reported by Planetizen, not only did the sales revenue remain stable, but in certain instances, an upward trend was observed in the businesses located at the intervention sites, mirroring the growth seen at the comparison sites.

The study, published in Injury Prevention, serves dual purposes; it not only allays fears of economic downturns as an aftermath of road safety implementations but also reinforces the potential for such projects to enhance communal health by lessening injuries, as highlighted by Andrew Dannenberg, study co-author and a UW affiliate professor of environmental and occupational health sciences and of urban planning. He stated, "The sales data do not suggest any economic harm occurred, in fact, there were a few instances where the safety interventions might have even helped sales," solidifying the standpoint that safety measures need not be at odds with commerce.

Looking beyond the dollars and cents, the city's initiative has garnered support from a cross-section of the community, for it is the engagement with residents, local merchants, and various other stakeholders that remains the linchpin for the success of Vision Zero ethos—transforming Seattle's streets into ever safer passageways for its denizens. As cited by Life Technology, the implementation of such safety measures has not only avoided denting local business revenue but has indeed the potential to amplify foot traffic, sprucing up the locale’s allure, which could roll out indirect benefits for the businesses nestled in these safer, more attractive neighborhoods.

Seattle-Science, Tech & Medicine