Active Mode Corridors Make Money

28 AUG 2020
So often commenters on cycleways and pedestrianisation schemes bemoan the impact on businesses. That shops need parking spaces outside them, and that removing car parking space will mean that people will find it too inconvenient to walk the increased distance to the shops. So when cycleways remove parking spaces there is a lot of resistance.

But these same mythical lazy customers are happy to park up in a shopping mall car park and then walk hundreds of metres to the shops within. So something is not adding up - and that is a realisation that the knee jerk opposition to the removal of car parking is not based on solid facts. In city after city where pedestrianisation or cycleways have been installed there has been an increase in business revenue. In Christchurch for instance the City Mall pedestrianisation project in the 1980s is something few would now remove.

In this article it is shown that in Copenhagen at least, the cost of car journeys outweigh the benefit of a cycle trip substantially. It then goes on to show a graph of the increase in sales in the years following a project's completion. Visit the article to see the graph.

It's hard to know why businesses think like this when there is so much evidence of benefits. Partly it must be due to the natural conservatism of business owners with their livelihood at stake - very understandable. And that they have a projection of the future based on the status quo - they are more fearful of the negative impact they will experience during construction, and possible negatives after - than of unknown future benefits... until they happen.

When cities are proposing changes there needs to be much more communication of the benefits - and perhaps some scheme where small business owners are compensated during construction. It might be possible to give a loan against future benefits. For instance - during construction top up their revenue by some small amount if they open their books during and after the works. Then the loan is repaid when it is shown that their revenues have rebounded and increased.

This should ideally be cost neutral for city's project budgets, would help overcome local resistance, and help small businesses over a likely rough patch during construction. It would require honesty, and likely have some administrative cost that could not be recovered - but the long run benefits to society of overcoming such resistance will certainly be repaid.
By Hab3