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City traders' faith in car parks misplaced: survey

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City business operators believe nearby car parking is much more important to their customers than it actually is, a new survey has revealed.

Customers of Frome Street and Rundle Street businesses are willing to walk further to a car park and spend much less money on car parking than traders believe.

And while Rundle Street traders consider improvements to on-street car parking the number one priority, visitors themselves are more interested in improving the pedestrian environment, the survey shows.

In addition, businesses and visitors to Frome Street are agreed that bike lanes should be a priority.

The survey, containing responses from more than 1800 visitors and traders on Frome and Rundle streets, was released last week by Adelaide City Council and conducted by Intermethod in 2013.

Rundle Street traders, according to the survey, believed that customers who arrived by car spent significantly more at city businesses than they actually did.

While car drivers were the dominant spenders on Rundle Street – 58 per cent – traders overestimated the figure by 15 per cent.

They also underestimated public transport users’ spend by 11 per cent, and underestimated spending by pedestrians by five per cent.

The survey found that the highest average daily spend on Rundle Street was made by bus passengers – seven per cent higher than the average spend by car drivers.

Scooter drivers, meanwhile, were the most profligate daily spenders at Frome Street businesses, spending 14 per cent more than car drivers.

While visitors to Rundle Street spent an average of $6.60 on car parking, that street’s traders believed this figure to be $13.50.

Frome Street traders believed car parking cost visitors an average of $12 dollars, but visitors reported spending just $5.20.

Rundle Street traders also estimated that visitors would be willing to walk 380 metres to a car park, while street visitors reported they would be willing to walk 930 metres.

Visitors to Frome Street estimated they would be willing to walk 714 metres to a parked car, while that street’s traders estimated the figure to be just 280 metres.

Rundle Street traders told the survey that they wanted more car parks, lower car parking costs, longer car parking time limits on their street.

However, visitors to the street wanted it to be more pedestrianized, with wider footpaths, more public seating and more trees and greenery.

Rundle Street traders said that improving on-street car parking was their highest priority for the street, while visitors placed that “half way down the list”.

However, traders and visitors to the street agreed that better crossing conditions were needed for pedestrians, and improvements to walking, public art and public greenery were placed in the top four by both traders and visitors.

The survey also found that people who walk or cycle were also more likely to return to Rundle Street than car drivers.

Nearly half of the pedestrians who visit Rundle Street return to it daily, while just six per cent of visitors who drive into the city return to the popular strip do the same. More than 60 per cent of those who walk to Frome Street from home use it daily, whereas three per cent of drivers use it daily.

The survey also contains a sobering figure for East End traders bracing for the closure of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital.

It reports that hospital visitors contribute 12 per cent of the overall spend on Rundle Street, and a further five per cent of the overall spend was made by hospital workers.

Eight per cent of the overall spend on Frome Street came from hospital visitors or workers.

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