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Old 01-03-2012, 11:19 AM
 
Location: The Port City is rising.
8,874 posts, read 11,750,637 times
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(sorry if the post isn't seasonally appropriate)

last couple of times we went to Shirlington, we noticed most (or all?) of the restaurants with outdoor dining (which is almost all of them) seemed to accommodate mans best friend with water dishes, etc. At first the number of doggies (with their owners of course) at the outdoor dining, plus the dishes, etc, made me do a double take. OTOH it seems like a clever niche marketing idea for the area.

The combo of the many outdoor dining spots AND all the doggies CAN congest the sidewalks, but most of the sidewalks in shirlington are uncongested enough that it served well for our recreational walks (and I assume it also works well for residents walking to the bus station, to shops or offices, etc) despite a section where we needed to slow down.

So - a tail wagging good idea? Or something that leaves you growling?
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Old 01-03-2012, 11:34 AM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,754 posts, read 9,947,155 times
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In my experience, Shirlington's sidewalks sometimes get so crowded that it's hard to get by. Most of the blame falls on the outdoor seating, whereby public space is appropriated for private profit. The dogs tied up to the railings while their owners eat take up a little space--but they're not the main problem.

If Arlington required restaurants to carve outdoor seating out of their own leased or purchased indoor space (say by creating a large raisable window), then this wouldn't be an issue at all.

Old Town is at least as dog friendly as Shirlington if not moreso--and we didn't have this problem walking around there with our dog. Plenty of space for everyone. And there were lots of other people with dogs.

We wouldn't allow a private business to usurp part of the street, so it perplexes me as to why the County government allows them to usurp part of the sidewalk. Both are publicly funded and publicly used infrastructure.
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Old 01-03-2012, 11:45 AM
 
Location: The Port City is rising.
8,874 posts, read 11,750,637 times
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We like outdoor dining, but especially in locales with lots of pedestrian traffic. As someone who used to take a toddler to out door dining at places we otherwise would likely have avoided, I can also sympathize with the dog owners.

I am not sure if restaurants using sidewalk space have to pay some fee for doing so - that would be fair. Where its good idea is going to depend on sidewalk width, use of sidewalks, and market conditions.

Until a few years ago there were many fewer pedestrians at Shirlington (despite a good layout for walking even then) - I think allowing sidewalk cafes was probably net net, helpful to the areas marketing, and helped it to draw enough pedestrians so that sidewalk congestion is an issue.

To get back on topic, Im not sure it would have the same draw for dog owners without the sidewalk cafes - the only places in old town I recall people eating dinner with their dogs was at the places with sidewalk dining.
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:56 PM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,754 posts, read 9,947,155 times
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We love our dog and generally love meeting other dogs. But I don't really get the urge to bring your dog with you to restaurants. Even just eating a croissant the other day in Old Town, I had to keep one eye on the dog at all times. I can only imagine how hard this would be during a meal. Plus, he'd go crazy with hunger, watching us eat. (Of course, he does that at home too!)

It WAS very fun to walk around with the dog and to let him meet other dogs--and I guess I could see that if you want to eat out while you're doing that, then the dog would have to be with you.

Back to the Shirlington sidewalk question: I'm a realist, and I know Shirlington isn't going to nix the sidewalk eateries. So what they could do is just close off that main drag to all cars. They have tons of free garages right there, and then there's the much-prized surface lot on Four Mile Run Drive. What's currently the sidewalk could basically be ceded to the restaurants and that one stretch of street given to pedestrians in compensation, like pedestrian malls in many cities.

Then again, I hate parking garages. If we drive around and can't find a spot in that surface lot--see ya, Shirlington.
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:58 PM
 
65 posts, read 111,691 times
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I disagree...at least in my experiences, the primary reason for going to Shirlington with a dog is because there is a dog park!

I live about a mile from Shirlington, and we take our dog to the Shirlington dog park. A lot of times we then go grab a coffee, a smoothie, or some frozen yogurt.

However, I agree that the dog friendly restaurants are a big draw for a lot of people,.
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Old 01-03-2012, 02:15 PM
 
Location: The Port City is rising.
8,874 posts, read 11,750,637 times
Reputation: 2578
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlingtonian View Post
We love our dog and generally love meeting other dogs. But I don't really get the urge to bring your dog with you to restaurants. Even just eating a croissant the other day in Old Town, I had to keep one eye on the dog at all times. I can only imagine how hard this would be during a meal. Plus, he'd go crazy with hunger, watching us eat. (Of course, he does that at home too!)

It WAS very fun to walk around with the dog and to let him meet other dogs--and I guess I could see that if you want to eat out while you're doing that, then the dog would have to be with you.

Back to the Shirlington sidewalk question: I'm a realist, and I know Shirlington isn't going to nix the sidewalk eateries. So what they could do is just close off that main drag to all cars. They have tons of free garages right there, and then there's the much-prized surface lot on Four Mile Run Drive. What's currently the sidewalk could basically be ceded to the restaurants and that one stretch of street given to pedestrians in compensation, like pedestrian malls in many cities.

Then again, I hate parking garages. If we drive around and can't find a spot in that surface lot--see ya, Shirlington.

In so many cities they are adding car lanes back into what had been pedestrian malls. for one thing, it gives extra access for people dropping someone off, for the handicapped, etc, etc. When its not as crowded the very convenient on street parking (there i go AGAIN with that auto friendliness thing) can be a real help. The cars go SO slowly that they don't really intimidate pedestrian usage. Plus theres a quirk in transportation financing - sidewalks that are part of streets can be paid for with road money. If no cars, they have to fight for the tiny bike/ped budgets.
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Old 01-03-2012, 02:40 PM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
4,489 posts, read 10,334,356 times
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I love seeing all the dogs in Shirlington. Honestly, the only reason I ever go there is because it's so dog friendly. If I couldn't bring my pup with me, I'd spend my money at restaurants/businesses/whatever much closer to my house.
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Old 01-03-2012, 03:27 PM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,129 posts, read 29,358,165 times
Reputation: 6883
It's a more recent phenomenon in Old Town because they only recently allowed restaurants to offer outdoor dining. Unfortunately the sidewalks weren't designed for it so it's a bit crowded.
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