Barrier effects of transport infrastructure
Handbook and method for monetisation

Job van Eldijk

Railways and major roads increase regional accessibility, but at the same time often create barriers that reduce local accessibility. These barriers lead to extra travel time for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as effort and discomfort when crossing and thus have a negative impact on e.g. social contacts and on accessibility to workplaces and community services. Barriers can also make active modes such as cycling and walking less attractive, which reduces physical activity and can lead to increased car use, which then increases noise and local and global air pollution, with a negative effect on health and wellbeing. Assessment of these barrier effects of investments in transport systems is today largely done with rough estimates and simple descriptions. This leads to barrier effects being underestimated or omitted altogether in decision-making processes for building new transport infrastructures or modifying existing ones. The lack of objective measurement and valuation methods also reduce trust between stakeholders (national transport administration, municipalities, company, interest groups), which can lead to cooperation difficulties and project delays.

In an ongoing research project funded by Ramboll, InfraSweden and the Swedish Transport Administration, we have, in collaboration with Chalmers University, formulated a conceptual model for barrier effects that is based on a systems analysis perspective. Furthermore, we have developed indicators for quantification of barrier effects. These indicators are currently applied in a location study of Ostlänken in Linköping, where they have shown that they can concretise the impacts of project on social sustainability, for urban development and for the local traffic system. The indicators will also be applied in an in-depth location study of Spårväg Syd in Stockholm.

A continuation of the research project is now planned in which will take the next step in method development concerning barrier effects. The development project consists of three parts: 1) To adjust the developed indicators of barrier effects to the needs of practice; 2) To develop methods to quantify barrier effects at the city level, producing barrier effect maps; 3) To develop methods to value of barrier effects, allowing for the calculation of the socio-economic costs of barriers.

The goal of the project is to develop user-friendly tools that enable a reliable and evidence-based impact assessment of barrier effects. The tools will  ensure that transport planning processes integrate concerns about local accessibility. We will present these tools in a new handbook for measuring and evaluating the barrier effects of transport infrastructure.