View from the street: Local businesses need walkers

David Harrison says shops will benefit from People Friendly Streets.

David Harrison says shops will benefit from People Friendly Streets. - Credit: Archant

Shops benefit from pedestrians. The big landowners in the West End know it.

That’s why they are keen to improve conditions for walkers. Footfall and sales increased massively when King Street in Covent Garden was pedestrianised.

The shopkeepers on Orford Road, Walthamstow, know it. They saw the remarkable transformation from a busy rat run with parked vehicles to an attractive street with outdoor seating and thriving shops.

How many people want Broadway Market to be a rat run again? Research indicates that making places better for walking can boost footfall and trading by up to 40 per cent.

Although the evidence in favour of stopping rat runs is overwhelming, many small businesses have been fearful of this.

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In Walthamstow, protestors marched through the borough with a coffin to mourn the death of their village and shops without motorists. They could not have been more wrong.

A 2015 survey found that businesses in Lea Bridge Road believed 63pc of their customers arrived by car, but only 20pc had done so. And pedestrians are better for business. A report on London town centres in 2011 found walkers spent £147 more per month than those travelling by car.

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People Friendly Streets can make a big difference throughout Islington. Who would now bring traffic back to Exmouth Market?

Imagine King Henry’s Walk or Cross Street as destinations for people to shop, sit and relax without traffic zooming past.

Not only will destinations like these benefit from such schemes. Just as important is the street when we open our front door.

If our street is quiet, safe and attractive, we are more likely to go on foot, not drive to a more distant supermarket.

With more people working from home, local shops stand to benefit, provided we improve our streets for walkers.

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