No Parking, No Business 3: Walking and cycling perspectives

Continuing  our coverage of the open “No parking, No business” conversation, more on walkability impacts/local economic development impacts, this time  from Todd Litman: selected references  from the “Walkability” chapter of the Online TDM Encyclopedia of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute. 

Pedestrian Malls and Districts

Pedestrianized commercial districts can support urban revitalization and economic development by creating a lively and friendly environment that attracts residents and visitors, although they must be carefully implemented to be effective (Rodriguez 2010). Some are closed to motor vehicle traffic altogether, at least during certain time periods such as evenings or weekends, while others allow automobile traffic but use traffic calming design strategies to control traffic speeds and volumes.

Success varies depending on specific conditions. Many pedestrian-only commercial streets created in North American towns and cities during the 1970s failed to attract customers, and many were subsequently reopened to automobile travel, but others thrived, particularly in resort communities or as part of overall downtown redevelopment.

Mark Byrnes (2012), The Uncertain Legacy of America’s Pedestrian Malls, Atlantic Cities (www.theatlanticcities.com); at www.theatlanticcities.com/neighborhoods/2012/05/uncertain-legacy-americas-pedestrian-malls/1929

Luis Rodriguez (2011), Pedestrian-Only Shopping Streets Make Communities More Livable, Planetizen (www.planetizen.com); at www.planetizen.com/node/47517.

Car-free streets impacts

Here is information on car-free streets impacts local economic development impacts from the “Car-Free Planning” chapter of our Online TDM Encyclopedia (www.vtpi.org/tdm/tdm6.htm )

Pedestrian-Oriented Commercial Areas

Pedestrianized commercial districts can support urban revitalization and economic development, although they must be carefully implemented to be effective (West 1990; Robertson 1990; Pedestrian Malls, Wikipedia). They can help create a lively and friendly environment that attracts residents and visitors (Rodriguez 2010). Some are closed to motor vehicle traffic altogether, at least during certain time periods such as evenings or weekends, while others allow automobile traffic but use Traffic Calming design strategies to control traffic speeds and volumes (Boyd 1998).

Success varies depending on specific conditions. Many pedestrian-only commercial streets created during the 1970s in North American towns and cities failed to attract customers, and many were subsequently reopened to automobile travel. However, some pedestrian-only streets succeeded, particularly in Resort communities or as part of appropriate downtown redevelopment (Rodriguez 2010).

Retail areas often subsidize vehicle parking on the assumption that customers need to drive to make large purchases. This may sometimes be true, but not always. Many cities find that a significant portion of shoppers arrive without a car and those who arrive by alternative modes are good shoppers.

A study of Prince Street (Schaller Consulting 2006), a commercial street in SoHo, New York City found that:  89% of Prince Street users arrive by subway, bus, walking or bicycle. Only 9% arrive by car.

By a ratio of 5:1 shoppers said they would come to Prince Street more often if they had more space to walk, even if it meant eliminating parking spaces. This ratio was nearly identical for visitors and those who live and work in the area.
Most shoppers would rather see space taken away from parked cars rather than street vendors.

The shoppers who value wider sidewalks over parking spent about five times as much money, in aggregate, as those who value parking over sidewalks.

Similarly, a study of downtown San Francisco shoppers that found less than one-fifth drive to shop, and that they spend less money in aggregate than shoppers using other transportation modes (Bent 2006). The study indicates drivers spend more each trip than transit riders, but visit less often and account for far fewer total visits and therefore spend less in total.

Walkers average eight downtown shopping trips a month, spending $36 per trip and $291 per month. Motorists average four downtown shopping trips a month, spending $88 per trip and $259 per month. Transit riders average seven shopping trips per month, spending $40 per trip and $274 per month. Overall, 60% of shoppers arrive by public transit, 20% arrive by walking, 19% by automobile and 1% by bicycle, yet downtown merchants surveyed in the study estimated that 90% of their customers arrive by car.

Elizabeth M Bent (2008), Modal Choices and Spending Patterns of Travelers to Downtown San Francisco: Impacts of Congestion Pricing on Retail Trade, San Francisco County Transportation Authority (http://sf.streetsblog.org/wp-content/upload1/SFModalChoicesSpendingPatterns_RevisedFinal.pdf).

bicycle facility impacts

Here is information on bicycle facility impacts local economic development impacts from the “Cycling Improvements” chapter of our Online TDM Encyclopedia (www.vtpi.org/tdm/tdm93.htm )

“In a survey of business owners in an urban retail district, Drennen (2003) found that 65% consider arterial bike lanes to provide overall economic development benefits, compared with 4% that consider it overall negative, and 65% support expansion of the program in their area.”
Emily Drennen (2003), “Economic Effects of Traffic Calming on Urban Small Businesses,” Masters Thesis, San Francisco State University (www.emilydrennen.org); at http://www.emilydrennen.org/TrafficCalming_full.pdf.
“Merchants on a particular street often object to parking-to-bike-lane conversions out of fear that they will lose customers who use on-street parking.

This is often untrue or inappropriate. In many cases, on-street parking serves only a small portion of their total customers, alternative parking is available nearby, and some of their customers who currently drive will shift to cycling if suitable facilities are available (Sztabinski 2009). This is actually a debate between very local costs (the merchants who lose a few parking spaces) versus widely distributed benefits (businesses throughout the area who will benefit from reduced automobile parking demand, travelers who benefit from financial savings and health benefits, and all residents who benefit from reduced traffic congestion, accident risk and pollution emissions).”

Fred Sztabinski (2009), “Bike Lanes, On-Street Parking and Business A Study of Bloor Street in Toronto s Annex Neighbourhood,” The Clean Air Partnership (www.cleanairpartnership.org); at http://www.cleanairpartnership.org/pdf/bike-lanes-parking.pdf.

====================================================

>From my report, “Evaluating Transportation Economic Development
>Impacts” (www.vtpi.org/econ_dev.pdf )

“Walkability can affect retail area attractiveness and therefore economic success (Hass-Klau 1993). Retailers sometimes favor automobile access (traffic and parking lanes) over non-motorized access (such as wider sidewalks, bike lanes and traffic calming) because they assume motorists spend more than customers who travel by other modes, but in many urban areas a majority of customers arrive by alternative modes, and although motorists tend to spent more per trip, pedestrians and cyclists shop more frequently and spend more per capita over a month or year (Transportation Alternatives & Schaller Consulting 2006; Sztabinski 2009; Malatest & Associates 2010). Because bicycle parking is space efficient it generates about five times as much spending per square meter as automobile parking (Lee and March 2010).

Although tourism requires transport, excessive emphasis on motor vehicle access (for example, expanding highways, parking facilities and airports) can spoil the attributes that attract visitors. Unique transport activities, such as walking, cycling and train travel, can help attract tourists (Tourism Vermont 2007).”

C. Hass-Klau (1993), Impact Of Pedestrianisation And Traffic Calming On Retailing, A Review Of The Evidence From Germany And The UK, Transport Policy, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 21-31.

Alison Lee and Alan March (2010), Recognising The Economic Role Of Bikes: Sharing Parking In Lygon Street, Carlton, Australian Planner, Vol. 47, No. 2, pp. 85 – 93; at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07293681003767785; also see http://colabradio.mit.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Value_of_Bike_Parking_Alison_Lee.pdf.

Malatest & Associates (2010), “Victoria Regional Rapid Transit: Survey Of Businesses, Property Owners, And Customers,” BC Transit (www.transitbc.com); at http://www.transitbc.com/vrrt/displaypdf/Business_Survey_Results.pdf.

TA (2006), “Curbing Cars: Shopping, Parking and Pedestrian Space in SoHo,” Transportation Alternatives & Schaller Consulting (www.transalt.org); at http://www.transalt.org/files/newsroom/reports/soho_curbing_cars.pdf.

Tourism Vermont (2007), “Travel and Tourism Industry in Vermont: A Benchmark Study of the Economic Impact of Visitor Expenditures on the Vermont Economy,” Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing, Vermont Partners (www.vermontpartners.org); at http://www.vermontpartners.org/pdf/Research_Brochure_2007.pdf; methodology at http://www.uvm.edu/~snrvtdc/publications/implan_method.pdf.

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About the author:

Todd Litman is executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transport problems. His work helps to expand the range of impacts and options considered in transportation decision-making, improve evaluation techniques, and make specialized technical concepts accessible to a larger audience. He can be reached at: 1250 Rudlin Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 3R7, Canada. Email: litman@vtpi.org.

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