Studies done in the last couple years disprove the myth that businesses need parking for customers or they’ll go out of business. The Spacing Wire has a post that looks at the studies and concludes that removing parking is good for business and making room for pedestrians or bike lanes improve livability.
A 2006 study of a Manhattan street (PDF) showed that, in fact, local businesses would benefit if parking was removed so that sidewalks could be widened. Last summer, on behalf of the Clean Air Partnership, Fred Sztabinski, then coordinator of the Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation (TCAT) (and sometime Spacing contributor), embarked on a similar exercise for a street in Toronto. The report, Bike Lanes, On-Street Parking and Business (PDF), has just been released. It’s a study of Bloor Street in the Annex (Huron to Palmerston), and it shows that removing parking for either bike lanes or a widened sidewalk would actually benefit local businesses in that area. The study surveyed both merchants and people walking along various parts of this stretch of Bloor during the month of July 2008.
The first part of the study shows that the majority of owners or managers of local businesses estimate that only a minority of their customers drive to their location, and also that they believe it would not harm, and might even benefit, their business if parking were removed to make space for either bikes or pedestrians.
The second part of the survey shows that the merchants are correct in their estimation of how their customers get to their store: 46% walk, 32% take transit, 12% cycle, and only 10% drive. Not surprisingly, walkers were also the most frequent visitors to the area, followed by cyclists, transit users, and finally drivers. Walkers also spent considerably more in the area than other types of customers. In other words, pedestrians were by far the best customers, followed by cyclists. Drivers, meanwhile, are the least frequent visitors and are low spenders.