TCAT presented two papers at the Walk21 Conference in the Hague last week. Nancy Smith Lea’s paper titled Converting On-Street Parking to Active Transportation in Toronto: Two Studies of Merchant and Patron Preferences can be downloaded here and Stephanie Tencer’s paper titled Contextualizing the Community Walkability Audit Tool is now available for download here.
We were so pleased to hear several times at the conference that TCAT/CAP’s work on the economic benefits of reallocating on-street parking to active transportation is being cited internationally. It was also rewarding to hear that other research studies have found similar findings to ours.
Ben Plowden from Transport for London reported on a recent study that examined monthly spending by travel mode in several London town centres. They found that walkers spend a monthly average of £138, cyclists £114, bus riders £105, car drivers £95 and train riders £89. As a result, the London Mayor has launched the Better Streets initiative and declared his intention to make 2011 the ‘year of walking’.
In a separate presentation, Neil Hrushowy from the San Francisco Planning Department reported on a four-year in-depth study of six shopping districts in San Francisco. They found that almost 55% of visitors to local business were walking and about 15% were taking transit, making those two modes of greatest importance to merchants in that city. His paper can be downloaded here.
Neil also provided an update on San Francisco’s Pavement to Parks program that launched earlier this year. Streetfilms produced a video about what was then a pilot initiative. In the program, business owners can, for a fee, convert parking spaces into cafe seating, bicycle parking, etc. The program is currently oversubscribed due to its popularity.
In these tough economic times, it’s important that our decision makers have this information available to them. The evidence continues to mount about the economic benefits of investing in the public realm, active transportation and public transit.
With thanks to the Walk21 organizers for a stimulating, thought-provoking conference attended by professionals and advocates from around the world.