I drove to Norwood the other day. Big mistake. 15 minutes to get there and 20 minutes to find a park. This is despite there being about six big car parks around one block of the parade. Here is one of them choc-a-block as it generally is all day Saturday:
And here's one of the many side streets off the Parade with a line of cars queueing near the entrance to one of the car parks:
It's all a bit silly really. Shopping on the Parade can be a lot of fun. It's not like a normal suburban shopping centre. For one thing, it's a proper street with shop fronts you can browse and it has plenty of places to stop and eat or drink - it has "High Street" feel you might say. For those reasons, unsurprisingly a good number of visitors come from further away than Norwood itself. Some car parking is of course necessary.
It would be interesting though to stand at the entrance to say Norwood Place and ask visitors what suburb they came from and how they got there. I can't help thinking that a lot of visitors are from Norwood and adjoining suburbs. Some are there buying the week's groceries and wheel out a trolley packed to the brim. That's not everybody though. Some just leave with pastry flakes on their fingers and coffee breath.
The parade in Norwood is the perfect suburb for the beginnings of a decent bike network. Start by removing the on-street parking on the Parade and go from there. Before you can say "segregated bike path", you'll see children riding around and locking their bikes outside Cibo's and then where will we be?
Meanwhile, a study in the UK confirms the obvious.