Walking and cycling can reinvigorate the high street, says TfL

Michael Grimes - 29 November 2018

Anyone trying to make the case for investing in walking and cycling will be excited by Transport for London’s new summary report pack on the economic benefits of both.

'People walking and cycling visit high streets more frequently and spend more money there compared to people in cars,’ says TfL. ‘Over a month, people who walk to the high street spend up to 40% more than people who drive to the high street.’

Walking and Cycling: the economic benefits is a summary of a number of pieces of research published on TfL's new online walking and cycling benefits hub. TfL hopes its own experience in London, as well as evidence from elsewhere, will encourage local authorities to invest more heavily in walking and cycling – both in terms of infrastructure and encouragement for people to travel differently.

The pack is an attractive and accessible collection of insights, bursting with evidence that walking and cycling can foster a prosperous local high street.

For example, improvements to walking and cycling 'can increase retail spend by up to 30%’, it says, and new cycle lanes in London 'have helped some streets carry up to 5% more people at the busiest times’. High street and town centre improvements also led to a 17% reduction in retail vacancies and a 7.5% rise in retail rental values, the report says.

And it’s not just London, says TfL: New York saw a greater rise in retail sales 'in streets with dedicated cycle lanes'; two-thirds of shopping trips in Copenhagen – and half the total revenue – 'comes from customers on foot and cycle’; in San Francisco, people who walk and cycle 'visit shops more often and spend more in a month than drivers’; in Los Angeles, 'sales tax revenue rose by two thirds after cycle lanes were built – 14% higher than unimproved areas’.

Benefits to the wider economy are huge, says the report, with a staggering benefit cost ratio of 13:1 for walking and cycling projects: ‘for £1 spent on walking and cycling, £13 of benefits are returned to the economy’.

'Walking and cycling,' TfL says in its report, 'already make an important contribution to Britain's economy, and encouraging more people to walk and cycle will provide a further boost. Investment in walking and cycling is a cost-­effective way to unlock these benefits, including significant savings to the NHS.’

BetterPoints is already helping local authorities realise the benefits of investing in walking and cycling. In Bologna, Italy, we helped the local authority get 10,000 people to travel differently, in Reading we helped the local council encourage people to cycle and in Ebbsfleet we are enabling the Healthy New Town to encourage healthy activity as a way to tackle obesity.

Our system gives our clients the tools to offer a rich mix of effective incentives for walking and cycling, and to track and reward that activity intelligently, without relying on self-reporting.

Ask us about our Smart Community Travel package. It allows organisations to personalise intelligently, build interventions that scale and administer them within your own team. It gives you the power to genuinely motivate people to travel differently and real-time activity data to help you improve walking and cycling in your area.

TfL says local authorities should invest in walking and cycling. We think you will be surprised by how little it actually costs.


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