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Re: [sustran] Local Economic Development Impacts of Pedestrian and Cycling Improvements

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  • Zvi Leve
    I would like to expand a bit on a few points which Todd has already made: ... I think that there are two fundamentally different types of development here:
    Message 1 of 5 , Jun 26, 2012
      I would like to expand a bit on a few points which Todd has already made: 

      On 24 June 2012 19:23, Todd Alexander Litman <litman@...> wrote:

      •     Pedestrian areas require a critical mass of users. They should be both a destination and a thoroughfare that connects diverse attractions (housing, shops, offices, etc.). Encourage development that attracts a broad range of customers and clients, including retail, housing, education and employment. Apartments and offices can often be located over shops.

      I think that there are two fundamentally different types of development here: specific places such as a square or even and individual street, or along entire corridors which are crucial for providing continuity (car drivers do not like stop and go traffic, why should this be the norm for pedestrians?). Many European cities have entire networks of contiguous pedestrian areas which permit people to move about the city without being exposed to vehicular traffic at every intersection. These are truly separate networks, not just individual streets....

      Concerning mixed uses, it is hugely important to bring more than just commercial and housing to the area! Office space, services (health and even educational), and cultural uses can all animate the area at different times of day. 

      •     Allow motor vehicles as required for access, with appropriate restrictions based on need, time and vehicle type. This may include unrestricted motor vehicle traffic during morning hours, transit vehicles, resident and hotel pickup, service and emergency vehicles, or other appropriate categories.

      It is very important to provide some flexibility in access and to recognize that there are different needs at different times of day.

      "Merchants on a particular street often object to parking-to-bike-lane conversions out of fear that they will lose customers who use on-street parking. This is often untrue or inappropriate. In many cases, on-street parking serves only a small portion of their total customers, alternative parking is available nearby, and some of their customers who currently drive will shift to cycling if suitable facilities are available (Sztabinski 2009). This is actually a debate between very local costs (the merchants who lose a few parking spaces) versus widely distributed benefits (businesses throughout the area who will benefit from reduced automobile parking demand, travelers who benefit from financial savings and health benefits, and all residents who benefit from reduced traffic congestion, accident risk and pollution emissions)."

      In Montreal, most of the pedestrian projects are in central areas which have quite high property values. The small commerce owners often cannot afford to live in such areas, and have moved to more distant car-oriented suburbs. Thus, the owners arrive at their commerces by car and naturally assume that most of their clientele arrive in a similar manner. Access to parking spaces is a very important concern for these people.... But in my opinion, the larger issue is the fact that small business owners cannot afford to live in the area where their businesses are located. 

      Richard has also made a number of excellent points. The link between pedestrian and cycling improvements (or any transportation project) and economic "development" is far from direct. There are many other factors at work, and many perverse incentives which encourage or discourage certain development outcomes..... 

      1.  Well, in the US, there were a number of pedestrianized malls created in the 1960s and 1970s.  With a couple of exceptions, most have been removed.  They weren't successful for multiple reasons: (1) cities were depopulating; (2) locally-owned stores in downtowns were decamping to the suburbs; (3) community mental health facilities weren't created as a part of the deinstitutionalization movement and so center cities became a kind of holding place for "street people" (people with health and substance abuse issues that made it difficult for them to live "normally"); (4) locally owned department stores failed, further reducing the impact of downtown as a commercial destination.

      So basically, streets were pedestrianized simultaneously with a severe decrease in the number of pedestrians, and an increase in other problems.  As someone said on a now defunct Project for Public Spaces e-list on public space (maybe it's another list topic to pick up and run with as part of the New Mobility Agenda), plants don't animate places, people do.  And so having motorized traffic has been considered to be an important albeit not lovingly component of place activation.

      4.  When I was in Montreal for vacation in July 2010, some merchants on St. Catherine Street had a campaign against the Art Festival on the street, which banned cars for many blocks (from the Rue Berri-UQAM station pretty far down but not all the way (I think) to the Papineau Station.

      And Montreal has a number of other pedestrian street initiatives--near McGill U, and in the Old City.  I bet Zvi Leve could offer some insights as to what merchants think today.

      Pedestrian and cyclist development in Montreal has become a *highly* contentious topic. Projet Montréal which won all of the seats in the central Plateau Mont-Royal borough has been pushing non-stop to get as many progressive transportation things done while they can, but they are encountering significant push-back from many directions (from merchants on one of the pedestrian streets for example).  On the other hand, Jimmy Zoubris who is a small commerce owner on Parc Ave (a long-struggling commercial artery) recognizes that we are in for a "rough ride" but he has thrown his support fully behind the Projet Montreal team. 


    • RodneyTolley
      Readers may be interested in a discussion paper I produced for the South Australian Heart Foundation in November 2011 called Good for Busine$$: the benefits
      Message 2 of 5 , Jul 5, 2012
        Readers may be interested in a discussion paper I produced for the South Australian Heart Foundation in November 2011 called "Good for Busine$$: the benefits of making streets more walking and cycling friendly". It does not pretend to be new research, but aims to be an accessible calling card for communities and traders, a summary of key evidence to date on the 'retail vitality/access on foot and bike' issue. It is available at:


        And no, I didn't find any evidence that local businesses suffer financially from access improvements for people on foot or on bikes.


        Dr Rodney Tolley
        Conference Director,Walk21
        Honorary Research Fellow, Staffordshire University
        Phone (Mobile) +44(0)7788753305
        email r.s.tolley@...

        From: eric britton <eric.britton@...>
        To: Sustran-discuss@...; NewMobilityCafe@yahoogroups.com; worldtransport@yahoogroups.com; LandCafe@yahoogroups.com; UTSG Mailing List (Z UTSG Mailing List -) <utsg@...>
        Sent: Saturday, 23 June 2012, 9:37
        Subject: [NewMobilityCafe] local businesses suffer financially when a zone is pedestrianized

        Has anyone here 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 know about the other side of this coin, but it occurred to me that this such references might be useful to us all, given that these local conflicts and claims come up time and time again in cities around the work..
        Kind thanks/Eric Britton
        PS.  Please note new addresses and phone numbers as of 24 April 2012
          Francis  Eric Knight-Britton, Managing Director /  Editor
          9, rue Gabillot   69003 Lyon France  |  T. +339 8326 9459| M. +336 5088 0787  | E. eric.britton@...   S. newmobility
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