Pedestrianisation in Plymouth : the effect on car users' accessibility to, and within, the traffic free zone
When pedestrianisation was introduced in Plymouth, in February 1987, there were two important physical changes to the city centre; environment changes and accessibility changes. Environmentally, the city centre was improved aesthetically and also in terms of safety for pedestrians, less congestion, and ease of movement within the traffic free zone. The process of pedestrianisation initially reduced the accessibility of the city centre, particularly for car users, because the scheme removed nearly all the on-street parking meters together with two small short stay car parks. This caused a temporary reduction in car parking facilities, and the replacement facilities, completed in late 1988, were located at longer walking distances from the shops. Car users' access to the car parks and from the car parks to the shops was therefore changed. Previous experience in other cities has shown that accessibility to newly pedestrianised areas is of paramount importance and in Plymouth this was particularly evident when car users' accessibility problem became the most controversial aspect of the scheme. Conventional methods of appraising the success or otherwise of pedestrianisation schemes have tended to concentrate on commercial indicators such as trade turnover or on the acceptance of the scheme measured by studying peoples' attitudes and opinions. This research develops a conceptual and operational model that looks predominantly at the behaviour of the city centre users and which focuses on the particular problem experienced in the city, namely the changes in accessibility for the car user. The methodology examines the car users' travel, parking and shopping behaviour at three stages of the city centre's development; before pedestrianisation was introduced, during it s construction and after it s completion. The research was therefore able to discover how people adapted their behaviour in response to the changes in the city. The research found that many car users adopted a more leisurely approach to visiting the city centre, reflecting it s new image of a recreational as well as a retail shopping centre. Attitudes towards pedestrianisation also changed significantly during the survey period, and were found to be strongly related to respondents' experiences and perceptions of the parking facilities.