Parking vs. ped/bike. What if the other guy actually has a point?
Last Saturday morning, the 23rd of June, I thought to ask an open question to several of our New Mobility Agenda fora as follows:
Has anyone out there ever run across a solid report or study showing that local businesses suffer financially when a zone is pedestrianized or made bike accessible? Or that real estate prices take a nose dive when such improvements are made? Most of us here are familiar with the other side of this coin, but it occurred to me that this such critical references might be useful to us all, given that these local conflicts and claims come up time and time again in cities around the world.
My reason for doing this was that this matter of ubiquitous business and political resistance to pedestrian and cycling improvements, if they come at the expense of convenient parking and easy car access -- is a battle which comes up time and again with almost the same arguments advanced on the two sides, and which results far more often than not in an impasse. City after city, country after country, you can count on it.
So faced with this I had decided to write a thinkpiece setting out a range of strategies for local government, activists and others who favor softer transport means. And since what I know of the literature is by and large supportive of the out-car in-bike/ped approach, I thought that before leaping into the fray to see if I might do well to get a better grasp on the downside when it comes to real world applications and debates. Or in other words, maybe the other guy just may have a point.
Today, only four days later, we have received more than two dozen communications from academics, consultants, activists and people involved in local government in more than a dozen different countries who set out some very thoughtful perspectives and background, which makes it clear to me that this is an area of transport policy and practice that requires a careful and balanced approach. But let's think about handling this in two stages, starting with the open dialogue without editorial or analysis on my part.
Let me today invite you to see the responses that have come in thus far which are all summaries on our World Streets Facebook site at http://www.facebook.com/worldstreets. You will see the original question and the responses to date if you simply scroll down the page.
For the rest, once the flow is stemmed, we can get down to the strategy piece and recommendations.
Kind thanks to all who have generously joined in. And if you have not yet shared your references or ideas, this forum is still wide open.