By Tyler Falk
Posting in Cities
Shutting down parking along a busy commercial corridor can't be good for business, right? Not so fast. It might actually have the opposite effect.
Not so fast says Aaron Bialick at Streetsblog. It might actually have the opposite effect. He points to a recent example in San Francisco's Chinatown. Parking was closed along the Stockton Street corridor to repurposed parking lanes to give more room to merchants and shoppers. Here's Bialick on the outcome:
If the still-overcrowded sidewalks were any indication, the parking didn’t seem to be missed.
“If anything, we’ve benefited from it,” said Brian Kan of Pacific Seafood Trading Company, who was selling groceries from a stand off the curb like many other merchants. “We think it’s brought us a lot of business, actually, instead of losing business. And it’s a great way for us to interact with the people walking around, too.”
Of course, this wouldn't be the case in a car-dependent strip mall. But when it comes to dense urban areas connected by transit, why is so much priority given to the car? In the dense Chinatown District, Bialick points out that a "disproportionate amount of real estate is devoted to moving and storing cars" even though the city has a 17 percent car-ownership rate and Chinatown, specifically, sees 2,000 pedestrians per hour.
In this case, parking for parking's sake doesn't make sense, and it may actually hurt businesses.
Jan 31, 2012
Where I live in Italy and in much of Europe, the big weekly markets and fairs are often held (even on working days) in streets and piazzas which are used as car parks for the rest of the time. The markets seem to thrive. I've always wondered what this tells us.
If the place in question has adequate transportation to the edge of the pedestrian area you will get crowds looking for walking space without dodging cars. The entire mall concept was built around this. Create a huge space for small shops, put parking or transit access at the edges and watch the people come in. The mall of America is the greatest example of this. It even has a transit station. Can it be applied to down town areas? Yes. It worked fine in my home town for over 50 years of auto use, until the "urban redeveploment" boom of the late 1960s and 1970s tore up miles of trolly lines to create wider streets and parking spaces which forced people into their cars.