Liverpool Daily Post 14th July 2005
Larry Neild's article (Anti-car attitude would be 'suicidal' for city centre, 12 July 2005) doesn't tell the whole story. He quotes Peter Stoney, a Liverpool University economist, who objects to a proposal to 'cap' the number of parking spaces in Liverpool city centre because he believes this will deter shoppers. This may seem like common sense to an economist but many other social scientists would disagree. According to John Whitelegg, a visiting Professor of Transport at Liverpool John Moores: "There is no evidence at all that providing more parking spaces in a town centre will improve retail viability or attract more shoppers".
When studies are actually made of the relation between traffic levels and shopping behaviour, (as opposed to merely asking retailers or economists what they expect), there turns out to be little or no relation between 'retail vitality' and amount of parking space. In one case (Leicester, in 1992) an increase in traffic correlated with a decrease in occupied shopping units. Surely it is common sense that the pleasantness of a town centre acts as an encouragement to shoppers, and that too many cars can act as a deterrent?