A number of recent studies – undertaken by government as well as by cycling or pedestrian pressure groups – have shown that cycling and walking are not only good for your health and general air quality, they also have significant potential economic and social benefits.

According to a University of Birmingham study commissioned by the Department for Transport in 2016, high density, cycle-friendly urban design tends to reduce infrastructure maintenance costs, while cycle parking allows five times more retail spend than the same space for car parking. In other words, it’s much cheaper and more efficient to accommodate cycle parks in shopping streets rather than car parking – and, if that’s done, more people will come, and they’ll shop more.

Another study by Living Streets, updated in 2018, found that, for a large number of towns and cities, when more space is given for walking and cycling and less to cars, the absence of customers arriving by car is more than compensated by people arriving on foot or by bike. 

The trouble is that, in the short term, dominated by Covid-19 concerns, people may see their own cars as safe space, and public areas around as potential pools of risk. The traders in Rye and Bexhill who have objected to reduction of on-street parking places outside their shops (see main story) may just know their own customers best.

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