People cycling and spending money in Portland, Oregon
People cycling and spending money in Portland, Oregon

This article in the Guardian newspaper in the UK explains why US business leaders are jumping on board the cycling band wagon (or cargo bike).

This is not because they have suddenly all become hippies with flowers in their hair. No, it is because (just like the retailers on Fort Street – see below) they have discovered that cyclists are good for business.

Support for this comes from this (19 page PDF) study from People For Bikes and the Alliance for Biking and Walking. One of the main quotes is:

that wide streets with fast-moving car traffic tend to depress property values, while buildings on streets with new bicycle facilities and pedestrian
improvements have appreciated.

This article also points out that many analysts are now saying that big-box retail is declining in the US and that retailers need to locate their stores closer to population centres and alternative transport (transit and cycling). WalMart has just recorded a large fourth quarter decline and this has been at least partially attributed to changing driving patterns. People are just not as prepared to drive long distances to big box retail in the exurbs. This fits in nicely with the new design for the Warehouse in Balmoral (as reported by our friends at the Transport Blog).

People enjoying themselves in the new Eastern end of the shared space - cars are second place
People enjoying themselves in the new Eastern end of the shared space – cars are second place

Closer to home this is backed up by the continued success of our shared spaces and in particular the Fort Street area:

Research on stages one and two of the Fort Street upgrade has shown a doubling of foot traffic and a 400 per cent rise in hospitality spending. Traffic speeds have also been reduced and visitors report feeling safer walking through the area at night.

The only criticism I would have, is that AT is being too cautious with shared spaces. Removing parking spaces and putting in a few bollards could quickly transform High Street and O’Connell Street into the pedestrian havens they should be. And if it doesn’t work (highly unlikely)┬áthen it can quickly revert back to the “bad old days”.

A few bollards and outdoor furniture from Home Depot - et voila! - the new Times Square for people!
A few bollards and outdoor furniture from Home Depot – et voila! – the new Times Square for people!

The same treatment could be given to Queen Street by narrowing the street between Quay and Victoria with planters and sealing off the side streets with bollards – there is no need for Shortland Street to empty on to Queen Street. Queen Street is often devoid of cars during the day while pedestrians are packed in like sardines on the footpaths.

An insistence by AT on gold plating shared spaces (and cycle infrastructure) is holding Auckland back. If cities of 10 million like New York can quickly implement these changes, why can’t a relatively small city like Auckland?

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5 responses to “Cycling and business

  1. I agree about the ‘gold plating’ of these projects. I do see a need for good design and architecture but as a way of quickly and cheaply ‘testing the waters’ we need to adopt the NYC way of moving quickly and over a much larger area to show people what can be done. Later, we can go back and make them aesthetically more pleasing (although, to me, just removing the cars would do this).

    1. I partially disagree. These shared spaces and the more expensive cycling facilities are just examples of w/c facilities getting them same kind of care & quality we have historically AND STILL ARE lavishing on roads.

      To argue that we should stop “gold plating” these facilities (don’t call them that, they aren’t, they are just so much better than we are used to) plays into the “there’s no money” argument, when really, we have plenty of money, but it is still going into the wrong projects, and the percentages of spending are still way out of whack.

      We should be doing these quality projects, AND doing quick fixes and quick wins on top of it.

    1. Yep, that was the first link in the article. Some great stuff in there and shows some real economic benefits for businesses from cycling (especially LOCAL businesses – more on that in later posts).

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