Myth: cutting traffic is bad for business

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Evidence shows that attractive and safer streets welcome more people. It is these people  – not cars – that do the shopping.

  • Research by Sustrans revealed that people not arriving by car may spend less per visit, but they visit more frequently and spend more over the course of a month.
  • In New York City, analysis of tax receipts found that retail sales improved dramatically where the city installed projects such as pedestrian plazas and bike lanes. Numbers of visitors also rose and commercial vacancies fell.
  • Walking and cycling projects can increase retails sales by 30%, according to research by Living Streets and Just Economics.
  • Shops on Orford Road (pictured above), part of Waltham Forest’s Mini Holland, are thriving despite traders’ initial concerns that a lack of car access and parking would kill the high street.

It is also important to stick to the facts when assessing the impact of new schemes and to analyse changes in footfall, sales and vacancies against wider trends. This prevents opponents blaming shop closures on new cycle tracks, for example, when other reasons are really to blame.

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