Adelaide councillors want to attract more people to the City – this is as true today as it has been for the last 15 years. And the answer over and over has been – MORE CAR PARKING!!
But if you want a different outcome, you simply need to try something different. So let’s make Adelaide a city for people – not cars.
This is not about being anti-car!! It’s about infusing some equity into our transport system.


The Perception – more car parks and more cars are better for businesses

Over the last 14 years that this writer has been engaging with numerous iterations of Council, this mantra has and continues to be the same – “we need to provide more car parks and greater car access, because if we make it easier for people drive into and park in the city, then small businesses and employers will benefit.”

Adelaide has more car parks per capita than any other capital city – and still the problem persists – and the call remains to make car access easier. This philosophical approach needs to be better balanced to deliver greater equality in transport choice, despite the difficult politics surrounding the inevitable removal of on-street car parking spaces.

While state and federal politicians scramble to mitigate the modest household cost of electricity increases (some $200-$400 annually), the enormous cost of personal transport is ignored. Here, there is a leadership opportunity for ACC.

In 2018, the annual transport cost for a two car household in Adelaide was $16,209 (ref Australian Automobile Association), which represents 13.7% of average income – not including the costs of depreciation and parking, pushing these imbedded costs to over $20,000 per annum.

Council’s own Bikeways Network briefing paper (page 63) displays a factual reference that 60% of the population who are “interested but concerned” say they would ride a bicycle more if separated infrastructure was delivered. The capacity for this cohort to radically mode-shift transport journeys away from cars to cycling to the City is immense and is clearly actively desired but fundamentally unmet.

The Mayor of Austin Texas (Sister City to Adelaide) took a leadership position last year declaring that the City authority was abrogating its responsibility to provide affordable, accessible and safe transport choice for their citizens, because 14% of constituents’ annual income was spent on travel costs – Adelaide’s is 13.7%.

Austin’s resulting investments in bikeways and supporting transit has had a transformative capacity for families to move “from two to one car households”, significantly easing cost of living pressures, while greatly increasing discretionary spending capacity.

The current politic surrounding loss of on-street car spaces as a result of separated bikeways reflects a perceived risk to small business. Evidence from multiple US cities tells a very different story on the benefits to local business and the city’s overall economic vitality. 

Leadership cities across the United States have seen the economic benefits of investing in Bikeways. In summary, investing in a seamless and connected grid of separated bikeways boosts economic growth, via;

  • Fuelling redevelopment to boost real estate values
  • Helping companies recruit talented workers
  • Making workers healthier and more productive
  • Increasing retail visibility and sales volumes

By way of example;

Indianapolis – 83% of residents near Washington’s 15th Street protected bike lane say it’s a valuable asset to the neighbourhood.

Portland – After construction of the separated bikeway, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail opened, the number of building permits issued in the surrounding ZIP code rose 112% as a share of citywide permits.

Washington –A redesign of NYC’s Union Square to include a protected bike lane resulted in 49% fewer commercial property vacancies.

Chicago – A shift to car-light life – the average millennial is driving less (down 23%) and biking (up 24%) and taking transit more.

Better safety, more biking

Physical fitness improves work. People who ride their bike regularly benefit in many different ways.

  • Up to 32% – use fewer sick days
  • Up to 55% – have lower health costs
  • Up to 52% – increased productivity

Bike shopping: smaller trips, more visits

People who arrive to a business on bike spend less per visit but visit more often, resulting in more money spent overall per month.

Portland. – In Portland, people who travelled to a shopping area by bike spent 24% more per month than those who travelled by car.


  • Car – $13.70                                                                          Car – $61.03
  • Bike – $10.66                                                                         Bike – $75.66

Studies found similar trends in Toronto and three cities in New Zealand.

These results are mirrored by a Uni Queensland analysis of spend in three Brisbane retail / restaurant precincts on dining spend against travel mode.

New York City – bike lanes – a sales boost

In New York City, after the construction of a protected bike lane and other improvements on 9th Avenue, local businesses saw up to a 49% increase in retail sales, compared to 3% increases in the rest of Manhattan.

San Francisco – better biking, more customers

When San Francisco reduced car lanes and installed bike lanes and wider sidewalks on Valencia Street, two-thirds of merchants said the increased levels of bicycling and walking improved business. Only 4 percent said the changes hurt sales.

Melbourne – smaller parking space, more value

$0.19 cents: retail revenue per hour per square foot of on-street car parking.

$0.69 cents: retail revenue per hour per square foot of bike parking. 

All councillors have previously voiced their support to get more people cycling into and through the City.