Yes, as dash mentioned above, this is a huge tradeoff. Greatly increased walking in a city would definitely hurt the economy in the areas of both public and private transportation. I suppose compromise is important in this area. Walk when you can for both environmental and health reasons, however, know that it is ok to rely on other modes of transportation when going a long distance, transporting groceries and other heavy objects, etc.
I agree with the above posts, although technically local businesses and shops (particularly in urban areas) are heavily sustained by pedestrian traffic – and the shoppers it brings in. Think about window shopping on your walk to work – people fall in love with something they see while walking by they otherwise would not have thought of buying. This free window advertising is not as effective at luring shoppers if passersby are in cars rather than on foot. On the other hand, as mentioned above, the items purchased will be limited to the physical capacity of the consumer (how much they can carry).
I think that more people walking would ultimately help the economy of a city and here is why: In the city where I live, areas that most people walk or ride bikes in are the young, hip, trendy neighborhoods. Rent prices have skyrocketed in these neighborhoods because since they are now cool, they are very desirable places to live. Boutiques, new restaurants, and coffee shops open and flourish. Also the air quality of these cities are be much cleaner- another reason people would want to live there (think of Los Angeles smog and it’s connection with the city’s constant, heavy traffic)
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