Planning for Pedestrians Makes Dollars and Sense

Pedestrians are just great.  Compared to people who drive to the shops, pedestrians are more environmentally friendly, healthy, add to vibrancy, interest, safety, social capital... AND recent studies confirm - cold hard cash.

Here's why walkers (and streets that encourage them) are awesome from an economic perspective:

  • Making streets better for walking can boost trading by as much as 40%
  • Can raise retail rents by up to 20%
  • Pedestrians spend more than drivers - up to 6 times more (in London, this was measured to be 147 pounds more per month).
Did you also know that retailers overestimate the frequency of customers that drive versus those that walk (sometimes by up to 100%)? This shows a need to bring people who walk to shops (not drive) more into public consciousness.  Encouraging pedestrian shoppers and the economic benefits they bring is more important than ever now, given recent rumblings of decline from some in the retail sector.

The report concludes that:

  • High street decline appears to be a continuing trend.  Investments in walking in public realm make economic sense and are likely to pay for themselves in the long-run. 
  • Consumers have a willingness to pay for local environmental improvements, so ways should be explored to take advantage of that to help raise revenue for these investments.
  •  Public realm interventions should be carefully designed to ensure that local people – as well as the high street - benefit from them.
  • High property prices can also have a downside, potentially restricting local access to home ownership and reducing retail diversity, as smaller businesses are priced out of the market. This should be borne in mind in designing public realm improvement projects to ensure that that high street and residential diversity is promoted.
Whilst the notion that great public spaces, and pedestrian friendly streets are good for business is already established, it's nice to see some case studies documenting the benefits with a bit of rigour.  There are also studies making the same link with bikes (yay).

Read on at Rudinet, or read the study in full here.


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