Businesses often base their hopes for future revenue on what has worked well in the past, and that used to be plenty of on street parking with close access to retail frontages.
Data is now showing that to be an antiquated premise as streets that champion walking and cycling access and facilities have more revenue too.
Transport for London (TfL) in Great Britain released a study four years ago with some staggering statistics about what happens when street improvements are made to facilitate walking and cycling.
Streets that had public squares, benches and amenities enjoyed a 216 percent increase in time shoppers spent on the street. Local cafes increased traffic, and retail space vacancies declined by 17 percent.
The impact of better walking and cycling facilities on London businesses is so profound that the improvement districts are now 90 percent in favour of more street amenities to accommodate pedestrians, and 85 percent in favour for more cyclist facilities.
But the most surprising news? Just as found in similar studies in Toronto and New York City “people walking, cycling and using public transport spend the most in their local shops, spending 40% more each month than car drivers”.
This data result was replicated in a study of Spanish cities published in Science Direct. published earlier this year.
In that study the researchers found that stores located in pedestrian environments had higher sales volumes than in non-pedestrian areas. The researchers also found that location was not important but the density of stores in a walkable place was key to increased revenue. There was no difference in revenue for a walkable area in the downtown or a suburb. In terms of store category , cafes or restaurants did the most revenue in walkable areas with clientele that could linger in their facilities.
These studies show that enhancing public spaces, providing good outdoor benches and legible pedestrian crossings brought customers to the areas. The London study also found that retail rents increased by 7 percent in improved areas for walkability and office rents increased by 4 percent when public spaces, benches and wider sidewalks were introduced.
I wish Vancouver had done a similar study once the 98B-Line disappeared from Granville Street. I suspect merchants had their business go down once a steady stream of foot traffic getting on and off buses along the corridor was diverted to the Canada Line. Good to see these kind of pre- and post-stats to provide “hard” data to back up the assumptions and annecdotal observations around street improvements that cater to modes other than the private auto.