No parking, no business?

Thursday, 16 March 2017

by: Sacha Oerlemans

The old saying may need to be updated, at least when considering on-street parking. Last December, Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT) released research focused on analysing potential impacts of new bike lanes and the reduction of on-street parking on local businesses.

It is interesting to observe the misperception of local merchants regarding the travelling mode of their customers; almost half of them believed that 25% of their customers arrived by car. However, in reality, only 4% of the respondents reported driving as their usual mode of transport to the neighbourhood.

TCAT merchants assumptions vs only 4% by car

The majority of the visitors (72%) arrived by bicycle or walking.

TCAT transportation choice

Considering the difference between merchants’ perception and reality, it is not surprising that 52% of the local business representatives stated that there wasn’t enough car parking while only 19% of visitors agreed with that. In the same way, visitors were more likely to prefer more bike paths or expanded sidewalks over no change, even if it meant reducing parking spaces. Conversely, merchants preferred maintaining the current street layout.

In fact, according to the study, local businesses’ best customers were those arriving by active transportation (walking or cycling) as they spent more and visited the area more frequently than the others! Check the results:

TCAT transport mode and spending for local merchants

It is not unusual to find local businesses being in fierce opposition of reducing on-street parking whenever that type of plan is presented to a community. As the results obtained by TCAT indicates, favouring parking isn’t necessarily the best way to improve revenue.

A liberal extract from Parking Consultants.