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Parking spaces right in front of shops seem to be bad for business

Walkable streets bring in more customers

Street parking isn't the most efficient way to make establishments accessible. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Well-meaning city planners often like to place parking spaces right outside of shops. The thought, of course, being that if they make it as easy as possible to drive to a store and park right by it, the more people will go there and spend money.

A new study published on Journal of Transport Geography now not only casts doubt on this theory, but actually seems to reverse it. The study, called Impacts of parking and accessibility on retail-oriented city centers, comes to the conclusion that too many parking spaces are actually bad for business. Mayors of Metro Manila, take note.

The lack of parking spaces in Kapitolyo forces people to leave their cars on the street or by the sidewalk. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Boffins then used a spatial model to examine how rental prices of business premises in the area are related to other factors, such as whether the property is in a pedestrian zone, how far away the nearest public transport stop is, or how high the settlement density is in the area.

The most surprising finding of the study might be the role that parking spaces play in the value of retail premises. Scientists concluded that having a pedestrianized area, public transport stops, or public parking garages nearby increased the attractiveness of retail properties. Having on-street parking right in front of the stores, on the other hand, was found to reduce rent.

BGC is one of the more walkable places in Metro Manila, if you can make it through traffic and find parking. PHOTOS BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be any parking, and the conclusion seems to be that the best approach is to have sufficient parking nearby and within walking distance, but not right in front of the shops. In a way, this seems logical.

It’s much nicer to park up and stroll along a pedestrianized area than it is to find a parking space and cross paths with traffic while you breathe in toxic fumes.

You can actually see this in action when you go to Bonifacio Global City. Imagine how much worse the place would be if cars were allowed to pull up right outside the shops there. Now, imagine how much nicer other parts of Metro Manila would be if they followed BGCs example.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.