This semester students in my POL 210 “Introduction to American Politics” course have been working on a policy analysis investigating the effect of the “Road Diets” implemented in Georgetown, KY and Elizabethtown, KY in 2012. This was done as part of a “service-learning” component of the course. Centre College emphasizes engaged and experiential learning and often partners with community members to give students a chance to engage in “real world” learning experiences. As such, the students in my course took responsibility for this project and were almost exclusively responsible for all the data gathering, analysis, and writing of the final report, with some minor supervision from their instructor.
In this case, our report was produced at the request of Danville City Manager Ron Scott who asked for assistance in gathering data about how other Road Diets have affected downtown businesses in two Kentucky cities that implemented Road Diets in 2012: Georgetown and Elizabethtown. It is anticipated that this report will contribute to the ongoing conversation about whether or not the City of Danville should recommend to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet whether or not to implement a Road Diet when Main Street in Danville is repaved in the summer of 2014. (See background on this issue here as well as the local EDP’s website on the issue here.)
The Executive Summary is as follows:
This policy analysis reports the results of a study of both Elizabethtown and Georgetown related to the effects of a Road Diet system implemented in each community in 2012. The study took into account various economic indicators such as unemployment rates and tax revenues. This study also gathered information from business owners/managers whose businesses are located adjacent to streets where a Road Diet was put into place in 2012. This input was gathered via a telephone survey covering the owners’ perceptions on the effects of the Road Diet in the community on his or her own business.
The key findings of this study are:
- There is little evidence that the Road Diet had a detrimental effect on businesses in terms of their customer volume, revenue, and livelihood.
- After the Road Diet was implemented, business owners perceived their customers to have safe access to the business front and reported little difficulties in truck deliveries to their stores and little difficulty in customer parking and access.
- The Road Diet did not seem to affect either unemployment rates or tax revenues in either community.
- The Road Diet seemed to negatively affect the two communities studied in terms of a perceived increase in traffic on the part of business owners.
- Overall, business owners think that the Road Diet had a negative impact on the community as a whole, but for reasons other than its economic consequences.