It stands to reason when you think about it. Get people out of their cars and walking and there’s a better chance of them starting to use local shops.
Instead of climbing behind the wheel and whizzing past en route to an out-of-town supermarket, they might just discover what they can buy closer to where they live.
Last week we reported on plans unveiled by Portsmouth Friends of the Earth to make the city more pedestrian-friendly and create a walking strategy.
It wants council backing for its vision of Portsmouth becoming a ‘walking city’, with wider pavements, greenery and benches along clearly-signposted routes.
We talked then about the benefits of cutting traffic and pollution and also encouraging people to exercise more in a city where obesity rates are worryingly high.
But today business owners point out another advantage of making Portsmouth more pedestrian-friendly – potentially improving their footfall.
Local shops and firms have suffered as society has changed, with people increasingly seduced by the idea of buying online or driving to the nearest big-name store.
But we would argue that traders are part of the lifeblood of any area and should be supported by people who live nearby.
We certainly hope that getting people to forsake their cars and walk instead will lead them to discover what is available on their doorstep. Suddenly, popping to the local independent shops may become part of their routine again.
Of course, the dilemma is that some traders say many of their customers come from out of the area. But nobody is talking about banning cars – just getting people to think if a car journey is really necessary.