BUSINESS owners have said turning Portsmouth into a walking city would help improve their footfall.
Plans were unveiled by Portsmouth Friends of the Earth to make the city more pedestrian-friendly and create a walking strategy.
Encouraging people to walk short journeys, like to the shops, will improve footfall.Cllr Matthew Winnington
The hope is to ease congestion and improve the health of residents.
Councillor Matthew Winnington, who is deputy chairman of the Portsmouth Cycle Forum and also sits on the city council, said he welcomed the plan.
‘Not only will encouraging people to walk more help with traffic and improve health, but it will get people visiting their nearest shopping district,’ he said.
‘Encouraging people to walk short journeys, like to the shops, will improve footfall. People will be discovering their neighbourhoods and it will be easier for them to pop to district shopping areas than walk to superstores.’
Shop owners along Eastney Road, in Milton, agree. The area has a range of independent stores.
Sue Manning, owner of Portsmouth Hardware and Pets Supplies, said: ‘We depend on footfall and if people ditched their cars they would come to us more.
‘We are busier when children are being taken to and from school because a lot of families walk.
‘But after then, people tend to drive and we miss out on that trade.
‘It doesn’t help that there is limited parking.’
Keith Waldren, who owns the greengrocers on Tangier Road in Baffins, said walking would increase impulse buys.
‘A few years ago when people would walk to and from the schools, they would go into the shops,’ he said.
‘You don’t get that impulse buy if you are driving along.
‘Encouraging walking would definitely increase footfall in shopping districts and precincts.’
But other shop owners in Baffins disagree.
Catherine Bartholomew, owner of Jesters, said a lot of her customers come from out of the area.
She added: ‘Our customers come by car because they want our products.
‘We rely on people coming from the area.
‘We are also lucky in Baffins that families do walk to and from the schools.’
Butcher Paul Cripps, who also owns a store on Tangier Road, added: ‘We are lucky with this area that parents walk their children to school and I am definitely quieter during the school holidays.
‘A lot of my customers come from outside the city too, so they have to drive.’