Does walking bring in the money?

There’s an argument to be made that a place conducive to walking will be economically successful. Here’s some facts:

  • The London study Quality streets: why good walking environments matter for London’s economy examined
    economic impacts of walking and public realm improvements, through a series of interviews across a range of business sectors: landowners and developers, retailers, developers and entertainment service providers. It emerged that:
    • All businesses rely on attracting customers whether they are passing retail trade, or tenants for an office block.
    • 85 per cent of respondents identified the quality of the streetscape as “important” in the ability to attract customers or tenants.
    • 89 per cent of respondents felt that “their front door is the street” and critical to self-image.
  • In the Australian suburb of Yarra (inner suburb of Melbourne) 82 per cent of local residents, 48 per cent of local workers and 41 per cent of visitors travel by foot, bicycle or public transport to get to the five local main shopping streets. Most local residents and workers visit a main street very frequently (many daily and 80-90 per cent more than once a week). Even though they spend less per visit (about half) than the “visitors”, local residents/workers provide 75 per cent of local retail and services turnover. The amount of “non-drive-in spend” ($/visit x frequency x active transport mode share) is estimated to be 50 per cent on average for Yarra’s shopping streets.
  • A New Zealand survey found that retailers and shoppers have different priorities.7 When asked about  transportation and urban design of local shopping areas, it was found that shoppers placed a high importance on crossings, wide footpaths and frequent bus services, but not a lot of importance on on-road parking. Retailers considered parking as the primary concern. High quality urban design and provision for sustainable
    transport were identified as important by both shopper and retailers.
    (From the Heart Foundations’ Report: Good for Business)
  • The economic uplift associated with taking traffic out of Times Square and making it a place for people included: 84% of people dwelled in the area for longer, 42% of NY residents visited Times Square more often and 26% of employees in the area took lunch more often
  • Closing Madero Street in Mexico City to vehicles resulted in a four-fold increase in footfall and a five-fold increase in spending

(Thanks to Cycling Rachel for the summary)

Do we need to rethink the design of our mainstreets and cities to encourage and promote walking? Looks like it.

So how can we encourage walking in our local area now?

  • Ensure we have clean, litter free streets
  • Create places for people to linger (posted a great example of a park bench library to our facebook page not long ago!)
  • Encourage the exploration and discovery of streets on foot. Photography competitions are a great way to do this. As are maps and guides.

Some other great walking resources: http://www.walk21.com/charter/default.asp for walking conferences and home to the International Charter for Walking.

Get the walk score of your local area here: http://www.walkscore.com/

Any other ideas or resources, feel free to post them.

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5 thoughts on “Does walking bring in the money?

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