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Old 01-10-2015, 01:28 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles, CA
506 posts, read 338,967 times
Reputation: 1206

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I'm currently taking a Land Use in the American West course at OSU, and our entire term revolves around a 10-week long project that we turn in and present during finals week. It's really open ended, we just have to get it approved through the instructor to make sure it has relevance to land use/urban planning/landscape architecture/etc.

My idea, being that I live in the Bend area, is to propose an idea to make two blocks of downtown Bend pedestrian only. I'm not sure how many people here have visited or live in Bend, but downtown essentially is built around a couplet, Wall Street and Bond Street. Traffic gets horrendous around rush hour, and with the articles I've read about Bend in publications like the New York Times, tourism has made it a much busier place as well. To me, walking around downtown, eating outside during the summer, and trying to enjoy the atmosphere is getting increasingly difficult with the influx of traffic both of those two lane roads experience on a daily basis.

So this proposal will look at the economic pros and cons of making a two block stretch of Wall and Bond streets pedestrian only, as well as the side street connecting the two, Minnesota Avenue. I've done a rough count and there's approximately 190 on street parking spots that would essentially be taken out. But there's also a five story, 550 space parking structure on the first half of Minnesota Ave. In order to get a feel for the economic pros/cons (without delving into research that would take longer than the 10 week constraints), I'm just going to go around and talk to business owners on the affected stretches of road and see what their opinions on business impact would be.

So I just wanted opinions on whether pedestrian-only downtowns are an actual feasible endeavor with how American downtowns are set up? I tried doing a Google search for any that existed, but that came up with nothing.

And here's a screenshot of downtown Bend, just for reference for anyone:
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Old 01-10-2015, 01:46 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
2,610 posts, read 3,762,451 times
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The areas surrounding Bend's downtown look pretty low density so it's probably at least partially reliant on people coming there from places that are beyond walking distance.

You could probably try to discourage through traffic, and tame local traffic so that it doesn't negatively impact pedestrians as much, as well as improving alternatives to getting to downtown (transit, biking, walking) and encourage more people to live within walking distance. But at least initially, I think it should still be possible to reach downtown by car, that doesn't necessarily mean being able to park right in front of your destination but at least nearby and with a relatively pleasant walk on the way there.
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Old 01-10-2015, 02:08 PM
 
410 posts, read 389,294 times
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Pedestrian only streets have a bad track record in America. The author points out examples where they have succeeded, such as at major university full of hipsters (Boulder), at beaches full of scantly clad women (Miami), and where gambling degenerates congregate (Las Vegas).

The Failed Experiment of the American Pedestrian Mall | downtown fresno blog
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Old 01-10-2015, 02:12 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,068 posts, read 16,085,690 times
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No.

Most downtowns are too large to get around by walking. Maybe someplace extremely small like Bend, OR, where the downtown is only three blocks by three blocks it wouldn't be completely unfeasible. It wouldn't really provide any benefit though either.
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Old 01-10-2015, 03:02 PM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
45,990 posts, read 41,979,923 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloric View Post
No.

Most downtowns are too large to get around by walking. Maybe someplace extremely small like Bend, OR, where the downtown is only three blocks by three blocks it wouldn't be completely unfeasible. It wouldn't really provide any benefit though either.
The OP's proposal refers to just two blocks, not an entire downtown. The benefit would be more pleasant to walk in at the expense of automobile access.
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Old 01-10-2015, 03:33 PM
 
4,023 posts, read 3,266,947 times
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A few years go they experimented with turning Times Square into a temporary pedestrian plaza.
When it turned out to be a boon to businesses they made the pedestrian zone permanent as it is today.

Commercial rents in Times Square doubled along with foot traffic and tourism to business.
The accident and injury rate to pedestrians and drivers dropped to zero as did the traffic congestion.
To say that it has no benefit is not correct.
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Old 01-10-2015, 03:37 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 21 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,010 posts, read 102,606,536 times
Reputation: 33064
Quote:
Originally Posted by impala096 View Post
Pedestrian only streets have a bad track record in America. The author points out examples where they have succeeded, such as at major university full of hipsters (Boulder), at beaches full of scantly clad women (Miami), and where gambling degenerates congregate (Las Vegas).

The Failed Experiment of the American Pedestrian Mall | downtown fresno blog
Even in Boulder, the mall is surrounded by parking garages.
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Pe...7044c164fb917a
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Old 01-10-2015, 03:43 PM
chh
 
Location: West Michigan
418 posts, read 495,789 times
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It's be great for tourists, but maybe not so much for people that work there, or for businesses there that need vehicles to deliver goods to them.
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Old 01-10-2015, 04:25 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles, CA
506 posts, read 338,967 times
Reputation: 1206
Thanks for the responses, everyone. It's worth noting I'm not sold on the concrete idea of making it pedestrian only, solely bad on some of the points above. I'm also toying with two other ideas: one being making Wall and Bond one lane, thus being able to retain street side parking, but also allowing for the expansion of sidewalk space, making more room for small green spaces, trees, street vendors, etc.

The other is making Wall and Bond "shared spaces," like they ha e in Auckland. It involves getting rid of the barrier that distincts ped space from auto space.

I figured making those two particular blocks my focus would be best, since Franklin Ave and Greenwood Ave are both main thoroughfares going East/West, that it was important not to impede traffic going those directions.
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Old 01-10-2015, 04:25 PM
 
4,023 posts, read 3,266,947 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chh View Post
It's be great for tourists, but maybe not so much for people that work there, or for businesses there that need vehicles to deliver goods to them.

Why would it not be good for people who work there? When your business revenue doubles or triples as a result of pedestrianization you would be stupid not to want it. Fortunately the Times Square business owners were not stupid and voted unanimously to make the pedestrian changes permanent. Pedestrian zones allow exemptions or have one or two lanes for local commercial vehicles so that is rarely an issue. Times Square is now one of the Top 10 retail destinations in the world.
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