Funding Councils to improve Sydney’s walkability is good for business
The Sydney Business Chamber says today’s announcement that the State Government will provide $15 million in grants for local councils to widen footpaths, build cycleways and close some streets to traffic, will benefit local businesses and improve community health and productivity.
“Studies have shown that making neighbourhoods more walkable adds intrinsic economic value to local shops and other businesses as people out walking or cycling often spend more time and money than those driving do, “ said Katherine O’Regan, Executive Director of the Sydney Business Chamber.
“The new $15 million funding being made available for NSW Councils means they can apply for grants of up to $100,000 to start small projects that will bring big benefits to the community and the economy. Pilot projects, like widening footpaths and creating cycle lanes, will allow people more space to get out and exercise more easily, while also encouraging and facilitating more social and economic exchanges.”
“Evidence has shown that people spend more time and more money in shops when they’re out on foot and are more productive, both economically and socially.
“The Sydney Business Chamber has been advocating for local councils to help kick-start their local economies by building small scale ready- to-go projects that employ local people and don’t get bogged in lengthy planning process.”
“What’s holding back many councils from getting on with these projects like widening and fixing footpaths and improving local parks and cycleways, has been a lack of funds as their budgets are being severely stretched with other Covid-19 requirements.”
“It’s no surprise that property agents now include a ‘walkability’ score when marketing a home, recognising that it’s a valuable part of peoples’ lives. Evidence proves that ‘walkable urbanism’ means a 20 minute walk each day can reduce the risk of early death by up to 22%, and mental health by over 30%.”
“In the short term, widening footpaths means people can more easily maintain social distancing as we begin re-opening shops and cafes and this will be vitally important in getting the economy moving again, especially in the CBD which has suffered the worst business downturn due to diminished foot traffic.”
“As well as helping to save money on treating mental and physical health problems, a study by Transport for London, determined that walkers spend an amazing 65% more than drivers. The economic benefits of walkability were also borne out in a study by Smart Growth America, that showed companies, (especially tech start-ups), flourished in walkable environments, as talented people choose to locate in areas that provide this mobility option.”
“This will become particularly important as we plan new precincts like Tech Central and Pyrmont, to include good personal mobility options as well as parks and public spaces to enable social distancing while facilitating casual meeting opportunities.”
“Extending a car-free George Street further toward Central Station will also provide a big boost for businesses in the area that have been particularly hard hit by Covid-19, as demonstrated with the boost to local businesses pre-Covid that came after the opening of the CBD Light Rail.”