Imagine our Oregon District if it looked like this on the weekends:
Across the country cities are figuring out what has already been succeeding in cities across the world for some time now – closing downtown streets to automobile traffic – either temporarily or permanently. Vancouver, British Columbia – Canada is known as one of these uber-progressive cities that have organized "Car-Free Days" on various streets in and around their downtown. The following video from Streetfilms.org does a good job at showing just how well this concept is being received:
And this brings me to Dayton – specifically Fifth Street in the Oregon District. Ever since I moved here I’ve always thought that Fifth Street should be closed to automobile traffic at least on the weekends. I can envision a Fifth Street packed with pedestrians, street performers, street vendors & even dining room extensions from Cafe Boulevard, Pacchia & Trolley Stop. And just imagine an outdoor stage on what is now the parking lot at Fifth and Pine – with local bands entertaining crowds of people strolling along Fifth Street. It isn’t that hard to imagine all of this, afterall – Fifth Street IS closed one night a year for the Oregon District HauntFest in October.
Obstacles to this idea are typical traffic engineer small-mindedness that insists that Fifth Street is a major throughway, though Fourth Street can handle additional traffic very easily. Others may say that people like to "cruise" Fifth Street, but folks – it is 2008, not 1955. Finally, there is the ongoing issue of parking – but if you click on the map below you will see that my proposition would only take away the handful of street parking spots that currently exist on Fifth Street.
So what do you think? What other obstacles do you see to this idea? And do you think that city leadership could be convinced to explore this kind of thing?
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