Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Follow up to The Big Debate on banning cars in Brighton city centre

A few further thoughts on the Big Debate about whether cars should be banned from Brighton city centre.

A car “ban” is rarely total
“Banning cars” normally means that the city centre is accessible by automobile only to residents, taxis, police, service vehicles, and delivery vehicles.

Many great cities have implemented a ban

Cities that have banned access, as described above, include: Turin, Vienna, Salzburg, Ghent, Dubrovnik, Copenhagen, Munich, Stuttgart, Zurich, Lausanne, Geneva, Basel, Quebec City, New York Broadway in Times Square and Herald Square, Adelaide.

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Photo shows one entrance to the Limited Traffic Area (ZTL) in Turin – home of the Italian car industry (bikes are allowed).
Active Travellers spend more
The data increasingly shows that pedestrians and cyclists out-spend car borne shoppers. The most recent collected source is independent research commissioned by Living Streets, published here.

Key findings from that research:
  • Making places better for walking can boost footfall and trading by up to 40%
  • Good urban design can raise retail rents by up to 20%
  • International and UK studies have shown that pedestrians spend more than people arriving by car. Comparisons of spending by transport mode in Canada and New Zealand revealed that pedestrians spent up to six-times more than people arriving by car. In London town centres in 2011, walkers spent £147 more per month than those travelling by car
  • Retailers often overate the importance of the car – a study in Graz, Austria, subsequently repeated in Bristol found that retailers overestimated the number of customers arriving by car by almost 100%
  • Landowners and retailers are willing to pay to improve the streetscape in order to attract tenants and customers.
Active travel reduces harms and economic costs
Other economic consequences of increasing walking and cycling include:
  • reducing the impact of poor health from inactivity
  • cutting the number of casualties through measures such as 20mph defaults and similar measures
  • distributional effects from helping people to save money by choosing the cheapest ways to get about: foot and bike.
An interesting item from The Economist last year cites figures from TfL indicating that pedestrians spend an average of £373 ($571) a month, compared with £226 for drivers.
The Economist article concludes, "Ailing high streets and town centres need to win back walkers. Learning from London's incentives would be a start" and goes on to cite the 2004 plan to make London a “walkable” city.

For ‘London’, read ‘Brighton.’

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