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Foot traffic exceeds expectations: Less than half of shoppers in inner and middle suburbs arrive by car

Traders are hugely underestimating the number of customers who travel to shops by foot, prompting a push for walkways and bike paths to take precedence over car parks.

A new survey conducted by pedestrian advocacy group, Victoria Walks, found that in inner and middle suburbs like Brunswick, Coburg, Camberwell, Fairfield and Northcote, the number of people walking to shopping strips is almost equal to the proportion of those driving.

In the City of Yarra, just 42 per cent of visitors to shopping areas arrive by car, with 33 per cent arriving on foot, and 22 per cent travelling via public transport.

Chief Executive of Victoria Walks, Dr Ben Rossiter, said retailers are greatly over-estimating the percentage customers who arrive by car.

On Sydney Road in Brunswick and Coburg, 31 per cent of shoppers surveyed travelled by foot, but retailers estimated just 14 per cent walked.

“In Sydney Road we know that 39 per cent of shoppers got there by car, but traders thought it was 61 per cent,” Dr Rossiter told 3AW’s Ross and John.

Dr Rossiter said most traders arrive by car, so many incorrectly assume customers do the same.

“In High Street, Northcote, the council there did some research and what they found was the majority of traders get there by car, so sometimes they’re assuming other people get there by car, which is not the case.”

The design of shopping areas greatly impacts the number of people who travel there by foot.

“In the inner area …for trips up to 2 kilometres, 43 per cent will walk to a main street but only 17 per cent will walk to car-oriented centres,” Dr Rossiter said.

But plenty of Melburnians are still opting to drive to facilities near their homes.

“There’s 446 thousand trips in Melbourne each weekday that are less than a kilometre long,” Dr Rossiter said.

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Image: Tsvi Braverman / EyeEm

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