Why fewer (polluting) cars in cities are good news for local shops – Briefing

A review of evidence: impact of low emission zones and other “Urban Vehicle Access Regulations” on retail in European cities

Over the past years a growing number of European cities have been taking new or additional measures to curb toxic air pollution and tackle the climate crisis fuelled by road traffic. City leaders have introduced “Urban Vehicle Access Regulations” that cover a variety of measures, ranging from low emission zones that limit the use of the most polluting vehicles to general restrictions of motorised transport overall, e.g. through low traffic zones.

The main findings are:

  • The measures have generally had positive effects on the performance of the retail sector,
  • Walking and cycling projects can increase retail sales,
  • A reduction in retail vacancy (the number of empty shops) has also been observed after active mobility infrastructure improvements were made.

This clearly demonstrates that measures like low emission zones and low traffic zones can deliver a triple win solution for clean air, the climate and the local economy. City leaders should adopt ambitious measures that set a clear pathway to zero emission mobility by 2030, reallocate public space to active travel and make clean and affordable alternatives available to private car use.

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