The city’s Stay Healthy Streets are an innovative, low-cost way to increase people space by bootstrapping on the existing greenways network. Kudos to the Mayor and SDOT for a creative solution. But as businesses start to re-open, we’ll need a much more aggressive approach, one that goes beyond the low-density residential areas and into commercial districts: sidewalk cafes, pedestrian-only zones and more.
Summer starts next week, so the time is now. As the mayor herself said in the aforelinked post, this is a marathon, not a sprint. We have a long summer and fall ahead.
From Boston to Bothell, other cities are taking initiative:
Meanwhile, across the country traffic is starting to creep back up.
As traffic rises, emissions are rising too:
Anecdotally, from my daily walks it does seem like there are way more cards on the road and less patience for pedestrians in the streets. As this continues, the political price for opening streets to pedestrians and closing them to cars will continue to rise.
The primary goal here remains to defeat the virus, not to redesign streets. But until there’s a vaccine or other treatment, creating more outdoor space for safely gathering is a win-win and the city could be doing more. If you want to go deep on street closures and urban design, Stephen Fesler at The Urbanist has you covered.