More economic vitality downtown and in other urban areas will come with fewer cars, a Halifax city hall meeting heard Thursday.

And car use should be thought of as a last resort, San Francisco planner Tim Papandreou told regional council’s transportation standing committee.

He said the West Coast city is using an integrated approach to municipal transportation, including improving pedestrian movement, upgrading cycling routes, promoting public transit, encouraging vehicle sharing and expanding the local taxi fleet, in an effort to move people around without the long-term use of private vehicles.

The benefits of such measures, Papandreou said, are a healthier population and business boost for urban neighbourhoods.

“If you have more transit and walking and bicycling, you actually have more walking trips,” he told the committee.

“And if you have more walking trips, you have better community and economic development, which means more feet at stores buying more often and shopping more often.”