Thursday, 7 November 2013

Letter to the Argus about cars and shoppers

Happy to see my letter challenging the myths about high-spending car-borne shoppers published in today’s Argus alongside one in similar vein from Becky Reynolds of Bricycles. If you’re in the majority of Brighton and Hove residents who don’t read the Argus (more on this later), here’s the letter.

“Chris Todd (letters, 5 November) is right to point out the importance of pedestrians, cyclists and bus users to the prosperity of London Road. Unfortunately, research shows that retailers are prone to over-state the importance of the car, and can massively over-estimate the number of shoppers arriving by car. Further evidence published in the independent report on The Pedestrian Pound commissioned by Living Streets, sets out the business case for better streets and places. Data in the report shows that pedestrians spend up to six times more on our high streets than those who arrive by car. Investing in the public realm – including pedestrianising areas and slowing down the traffic – has been shown to boost footfall and local economies by up to 40%.

It’s time that retailers (and others) gave up asserting that we need to unleash more cars into the city. What’s needed are measures which support those who choose to spend their money without using a car. Turning Brighton and Hove into an unsafe, traffic-choked and pollution-blighted “car friendly” city is not the answer to the challenges facing retailers.

Yours etc”

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