Sunday, January 18, 2009

Winter Streets: The Inauguration as Pedestrian Utopia

Last summer, New York City launched its "Summer Streets" program, closing seven miles of streets to all traffic except pedestrians and bicycles for a day. At first this may sound nonsensical. Why would people want to close off the primary arteries? wouldn't this cripple the economy? However, the response to the street closures was generally positive, people became aware of how much space roadways occupy in cities, and the economy seemed to continue unabated.

During the inauguration, a roughly 3 square mile area will be closed to emergency and law enforcement vehicles only, and I-395 will be closed to all vehicles except pedestrians. So far, the reaction here in Richmond has just been to grumble about how much traffic this will generate. But what if we take the approach that closing these streets will make he environment that much better for a day - especially for an inauguration day?

The I-395/third street tunnel will be closed for a 24 hour period beginning at midnight Jan 19/20, as will many of the bridges. Instead of griping about the traffic, try taking a stroll over the deserted streets - maybe wait a while after the swearing in has happened so they're not too packed. It just might change the way you think about streets.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Obamathon Man,
    These streets are made for walking! Maybe the administration will be inspired to make cities more pedestrian friendly as part of its green initiatives.