High vitality where there is low car dependency

WinACC have compared two surveys that were done independently of each other:

In 2014, retail analysts Harper Dennis Hobbs published an assessment of the economic vitality of 500 retail centres (which is no longer on their website).

Meanwhile, coincidentally, the Campaign for Better Transport assessed the degree of car dependence of a number of town centres.

We found that the towns that relied least on cars showed the highest levels of commercial vitality; there was almost 100% correlation between how centres scored on low car dependency and how they scored on town centre vitality (for example Cambridge is minimally dependent on the car and has the most vital city centre in the chart). With the exceptions of Peterborough, Colchester and Milton Keynes that are a bit more vital than their heavy dependence on cars would suggest, and Dudley that is highly car dependent and is even less vital than its high car dependency would suggest, most towns are close to the line demonstrating the correlation. More here.

The Pedestrian Pound

This study by the University of the West of England published in September 2013 found:

  • Walking and cycling projects can increase retail sales by 30%
  • Taking rents as an indicator of vitality, walking projects can increase retail and commercial rents by 10-30 percent (e.g. pedestrianisation in Hong Kong by 17%)
  • Consistent evidence that customers like pedestrian environments and dislike traffic
  • To go shopping, a higher proportion of customers walk, cycle or go by bus than retailers think.

The report is full of case studies and can be downloaded here.

Active Cities

A 2015 University of California study on the relationship between active cities (with a lot of walking, cycling and public transport) and economic prosperity shows very clear findings based on ‘strong’ evidence that active cities are good for business. Well worth a good look.

  • Places built for activity (with among other things transport infrastructure encouraging walking, cycling, public transport) show good to strong evidence of economic benefits – such as increased home value, greater retail activity, and improved productivity.

This was "meta-research", in which they looked at at 521 pieces of academic research from 17 different countries to get a much more accurate overview of what they show in combination.

The link above goes to a popular summary. There is also a document with more words and fewer pictures.  

Pages 14 to 17 deal specifically with Urban Design and Transport issues and are full of good things to quote. The matrix tables are explained on the methodology tables on pp 7 – 10. 

British Parking Association / Association of Town and City Management

Even the British Parking Association has acknowledged that received wisdom on parking should be re-examined.

They point out that many factors affect town centre prosperity and say there is much confused thinking and that it is difficult to find a conclusive link between prosperity and car parking provision. They include in their good practice examples the encouragement of walking, cycling, and public transport, and emphasise the need to discuss parking provision in the context of a variety of planning objectives.

Sustrans: Traffic restraint and retail vitality

This demonstrates how far retailers make the wrong assumptions about their customers and give copious examples of successful initiatives of traffic restraint that achieved positive commercial results. The report can be found here.