Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Does car parking encourage local shopping?

One of the "Pickles war on the war on motorists" issues is that the lack of free parking is destroying the high street. An interesting assertion, but is it backed with real data? Well, we like our data over opinions, especially when the opinions come from politicians, national or local, which aren't backed up by any evidence.

Here is whiteladies road on a weekday, from Clifton Down shopping centre  up to Blackboy Hill, or more precisely the Port of Call pub.

Some things to observe.

  1. 0:00 starts at clifton down, where a mid-size Sainsbury's provides groceries and beers.
  2. The first 1:15 of the 2:30 video contains a stretch with vast amounts of short stay parking for shoppers. With the roll out of the bus lanes, the commuter parking here is now gone.
  3. The first 1:15 of the 2:30 video contains many vacant shops. Two camera shops -killed by digital cameras eliminating the printing business, and Amazon. One bookshop: killed by Amazon. A bottoms-up off license. Some clubs which went away when "the strip" fell out of fashion.
  4. The upper half of the video contains lots of shops -even though the parking spaces there are all full. It includes esoteric shops: kitchens, ellis brigham, artists supplies premium things: a fish shops, a cheese-vendor, and everyday things. 
The implication here is not that a lack of parking kills shopping, but that online trading and digital devices has destroyed the business models of some shops, trends in nightlife (and the cash to party) others. The 2008 banker-created recession has probably been more destructive than anti-car policies in this road.

Another issue may be that the Sainsbury's sucks up all the daily shopping cash, leaving only outdoor coffee shops nearby and a post office/chemist. The upper section of the hill keeps going due to a large local resident population with enough money to buy things, and the fact it contains the last off licenses, pubs and chip shops before the downs, or more precisely the student halls of residence on the other side of the downs.

(footnote: one of main camera of this project, a panasonic TZ27, came from Jacob's cameras which was at 0:54. London Camera Exchange in central Bristol is still surviving, showing that some of the more specialist camera shops are surviving -even though parking there is worse)

1 comment:

bikemapper said...

"British people are over-dependent on processed food, ready meals and food with huge 'air miles' owing to the dominance of the supermarkets.

"Our country would do well to take a leaf out of Paris's book on urban planning regulations. Supermarkets above a certain 'convenience store' size are banned within the city limits. Street markets thrive here, great ingredients are king, and quality produce is available at reasonable prices.

"By contrast, my home-town of Weston-super-Mare has at least seven large supermarkets and numerous mini Tesco stores. It also has a fading high street - with only a few plucky greengrocers and butchers hanging on, no produce markets, and plenty of takeaway outlets. This is a picture repeated across the whole of Britain, and yet ordinary consumers are blamed for eating badly.

"People can only buy that which is available to them."

(Catherine Nicholson, Paris, France)

The above letter was originally published in The Daily Telegraph a couple of weeks ago, and republished in The Week, and I have been looking for an opportunity to report it ever since.

The key to a thriving urban space is activity, and this is hindered in the presence of excessive motor traffic. However, as Warren Buffett has noted: "Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken."