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36 porches), the natural environment features (e.g., scenic views), complete the project. ROW acquired prior to use for a future attributes of the neighborhood and location (e.g., crime level, road or transit line may still be used for transportation. Plac- golf courses, and trees), public services (e.g., school and ing a bicycle facility along the ROW is relatively inexpen- infrastructure quality), marketing, and financing. The appli- sive, ensures a transportation use for the corridor (ensuring it cation germane to this inquiry focuses on the relative impact will not be viewed as park land) and provides user benefits. of bicycle lanes and trails. It is important, however, to under- The economic value of ROW preservation can be esti- stand the relative value of different types of facilities as they mated by multiplying the probability of use in the future by may have substantially different appeal. Some trails are on the difference of the net present value of future cost if not existing streets (demarcated by paint striping); some are next preserved and the present cost. Because acquiring ROW that to existing streets (separated by curbs); others are clearly sep- is already developed is more expensive, this should output a arated from traffic and often contained within open spaces. positive value. The probability of future use is an important The last category, being the most attractive for many bicy- variable that is usually case specific. For example, a plan may clists, is likely to have the largest effect. To effectively esti- suggest three alternative ROWs for a route. The probability mate the value of such facilities, it is important to be able to of any route would then be less than one-third. Thus, the explain and control for the degree to which open space ver- ROW preservation benefit would depend on the difference in sus the bike trail contained within the open space contributes costs multiplied by that probability. There are similar ways to a home's value. In many metropolitan areas, bike trails and of estimating this value that might produce different results. open space share a spatial location and at minimum exhibit For example, the present cost of the ROW could be esti- similar recreational qualities. Any research failing to account mated in the cost category, and then consider "selling" the and control for such correlation would be misguided in its ROW in the future to the other transportation project as part attempt to estimate the independent value of bicycle trails. of the salvage value of the bicycle facility. This salvage value For this reason, not only is it important to control for struc- is an estimate of the market value of the land. If the net pres- tural attributes of the home, characteristics of the neighbor- ent value of the salvage value exceeds the present cost, there hood, and geographic location, but it is also important to may also be a right of preservation benefit. In such delibera- consider the value of adjacent open space. The value of open tions, it would be important to account for the discount value space has been estimated in several applications of hedonic of completing the project--the present value of using avail- regression (131136). able funds to complete a project and buying land for future proj- The hedonic pricing method is appealing because it is ects later. For example, a benefit-cost ratio of 1.1 that would rooted firmly in market prices and provides a strategy to per- imply that 1 million dollars spent on a project will generate form an economic valuation for non-market facilities. To the stream of benefits worth 1.1 million in present dollars. This is team's knowledge, the only attempt to extend such methodol- the baseline to compare with early ROW purchase. That is, the ogy to bicycle facilities was conducted by Lindsey et al. (72) baseline is that some amount of money "x" greater than 1 mil- who analyze the property value using a one-half mi buffer lion dollars will be spent to buy ROW in the future. around a greenway. The outcome of this methodology would To estimate the present value of using the 1 million dollars then be econometric models that can be used to reliably mea- to buy ROW for future use, delaying a hypothetical project that sure if residents value access to bicycle facilities and if so, to would have been done with that money, consider how that what degree. This value could then be easily converted to the benefit stream would change. First, a given project may monetary amounts. eventually generate the same stream of benefits, but delayed by n years, giving a lower present value. However, the money that is saved (x minus $1M) by not paying a higher land price Fiscal later, means that an additional project can be done at that time, yielding extra benefits, again starting n years in the future. ROW preservation is the process of preserving land needed for future infrastructure, most often in the form of transporta- tion. It is a benefit reaped exclusively by the public agencies CONCLUSIONS planning such facilities. Consider the situation where there may be a plan to build a rail transit corridor in 10 years; it For such information to be useful in policy circles, several may be economically prudent to acquire the land sooner actions need to be taken (in addition to improving data col- rather than later for several reasons (137). First, the price of lection efforts). First, the majority of past work has a clear land may rise faster than inflation. Second, acquiring the land advocacy bent; it is not always known how and where much now may ensure it is not developed, while not acquiring it now of the data are derived. It is unclear from most of the studies may require the destruction of recently constructed buildings. if the available data were analyzed in a completely objective There are, of course, risks associated with ROW preserva- manner. Second, it is important to focus the discussion and tion. Land may be acquired but the resources never found to analysis at an appropriate scale and for a particular purpose.
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37 Third, such analysis and frameworks need to be better incor- the manner in which these methodologies are approached. The porated into policy discussions. In its current state, this research intent is to provide the foundation for urging a consistent lacks appeal because many studies are conducted at a rela- framework in which different benefits can be estimated and tively abstract scale rather than at a project scale. subsequently compared. If the goal is to implement plans that For this reason, it is suggested that benefits be estimated on systematically integrate or account for such consideration, a municipal (or regional) scale or in even more disaggregate then such methods and improvements will ultimately lead to units. Finally, there exists considerable room for improving more sound policy decisions and bicycle facility investment.