Understanding the economic impacts of urban greenway infrastructure

Jenny Liu, Portland State University


This project proposes a comprehensive economic analysis of the “City Greenways” concept from Portland’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan, which calls for a citywide network of park-like pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly streets crisscrossing the city at roughly 3-mile intervals. Examining the urban greenway infrastructure comprehensively through economic, sustainability and equity perspectives helps cities such as Portland to understand how it can better address carbon emissions, develop effective pedestrian and bicycle transportation networks and improve health outcomes citywide. This project develops analysis to understand how cyclists, pedestrians and users of other modes interact with an urban greenway system of safer, clear and direct pathways linking land uses, open space amenities and daily destinations throughout the city, building on current research by the PI and regional partners that explore related issues for a smaller-scale “Green Loop” in central Portland.
The goal of this project is to evaluate the comprehensive economic impacts of the “City Greenways” network, through two primary research questions: (1) how does the “City Greenways” connect to current transportation network and how might the design and configuration of these urban greenway facilities provide broader active transportation networks linking businesses, households, centers and corridors; and (2) what would be the economic impacts (local and regional economic development, place-making benefits or land use tradeoffs), and how would this impact livability, sustainability and equity in the urban region? 

In order for cities such as Portland to strategize the implementation of an urban greenway network and to provide evidence to support infrastructure investment, we propose to establish an analytical framework to understand the economic impacts of urban greenway infrastructure, and to empirically estimate the overall economic impacts of a Portland greenway network on transportation, economic development, sustainability and equity. As a collaborative project between PSU and Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, the outcomes will provide a solid research and practical foundation to evaluate whether urban greenway infrastructure can be successfully implemented as part of the city’s long-term response to global climate change and citywide goals for low-carbon development.  

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
In Progress
End Date:
April 30,2018
UTC Grant Cycle:
Natl Round 2
UTC Funding: