In relation to your “Don’t gamble with the street” editorial in Friday’s edition of The Shetland Times, and related comments made on The Shetland Times website.
There is a long-established body of evidence within the UK and Europe that pedestrianisation of shopping streets increases footfall and thence trade in those areas. The nearest example of this is Kirkwall, which for many years has excluded vehicles from Bridge Street, Albert Street and Victoria Street, apart from those using blue badges, for most of the business day, apart from a short period in the morning for deliveries to take place. All three streets also have a 15 miles per hour speed limit, as does Broad Street. It would not be an exaggeration to say that retail trade is thriving in Kirkwall.
Stromness in comparison has two-way traffic, and anyone who is in the least familiar with that town will confirm that the number and variety of shops there has suffered a long period in the doldrums.
The people who have expressed opposition to the pedestrianisation of Commercial Street appear to base that on reduced accessibility to businesses.
I have watched, on numerous occasions, young, fit people pull their cars in so close to the Post Office wall that they’re in danger of losing their wing mirrors, in order to save them walking across the road to post a letter. I’ve witnessed similar behaviour at one of the bank ATMs in the street.
I’ve complained several times to Tesco about young, fit people who park their cars on the double yellow lines at the front door of the store to avoid having to walk from the large car park set aside for them.
Surely pedestrianisation is worth pursuing to increase socialisation on the street, and, in addition, to get some gentle exercise to avoid becoming lard-arses?