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Trees, ground vegetation, sidewalks, cycleways: users’ preferences and economic values for different elements of an urban street—a case study in Taipei

Abstract

Streets are an essential element of cities, and their design has a profound impact on their functionality to the movement of people and their well-being. This paper investigates preferences for and economic values of several street design characteristics, encompassing greenspaces (ground vegetation, trees, flowers), and walking and cycling infrastructure. A discrete choice experiment on a single case study street in Taipei, Taiwan, has revealed positive preferences for ground vegetation (and a willingness to pay—WTP—between $2.8 and $4 per year for a 1% increase in coverage), separated cycling infrastructure (with a WTP between $60 and $100 for cycleways separated from traffic), pedestrian access to road islands (WTP of $55), and the (reduced) amount of space dedicated to motor vehicles (WTP of $29 to avoid any increase). Flowers were also deemed important, but a mixed picture was obtained with respect to preference for street trees. The analysis is exploratory, on a relatively small sample of street users, but contributes to the literature on the importance of urban vegetation and walking and cycling infrastructure when designing streets and be used to draw lessons for other similarly dense urban areas in the country and wider region.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Twenty-one respondents were eliminated from the initial dataset. These included those who missed some choice cards, and those who did not want to reveal any socio-economic characteristics. Other inconsistencies were also used as an additional indicator of not properly engaging with the survey. Respondents who stated a very low level of certainty in all their choice cards were also eliminated. Low certainly in few choice cards was considered reasonable given the complexity of the experiment.

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Acknowledgements

This work was carried while the first author was a Master’s student at CEDEP, SOAS. The corresponding author is an academic tutor (consultant) in environmental economics in the same centre. The authors wish to thank the Wye College Agricola Club for the grant that helped carry out the survey. The authors would also like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their very useful comments.

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Correspondence to Alberto M. Zanni.

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Appendices

Appendix

Fig. 2
figure2

Xin Yi Road, Sect. 4—author’s photo

Choice card attributes and levels’ key (this information was shown to respondents prior to the questionnaire)

Ground cover

The composition of floor cover, excluding tarred road surface, measured in terms of percent paved vs. percent grass or foliage.

figurea

Tree canopy cover

The amount of tree cover over the road as seen from above, measured as a rough percentage of total surface area.

figureb

Cycling infrastructure

figurec

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Botes, C.M., Zanni, A.M. Trees, ground vegetation, sidewalks, cycleways: users’ preferences and economic values for different elements of an urban street—a case study in Taipei. Environ Econ Policy Stud 23, 145–171 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10018-020-00284-5

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Keywords

  • Urban greenspaces
  • Sidewalks
  • Cycleways
  • Economic value
  • Willingness to pay