Reintroducing Cars To Pedestrian Malls

Downtown Sacramento's 'K' St. has been one of the city's most notable economic failures. Banning cars while providing the light rail an undisturbed path never fulfilled the hopes that urban planners had for the pedestrian mall. Now cars will return.
April 30, 2010, 8am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Traffic has been banned from K St. since the sixties. The City Council and Mayor Kevin Johnson have now approved returning vehicle traffic in hopes of bringing more customers to the dying street. Cyclists will have no objection as long as vehicle speed is kept low, according to Walt Seifert with Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates.

"Michael Ault (of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership) and city officials believe more cars means more eyeballs – which K Street's shops and restaurants desperately need. They also hope cars will bring less crime. Denise Malvetti with the economic development department says Sacramento is one of many cities rethinking car-less streets."

Malvetti: "Between 1959 and 1984, about 130 US cities created these pedestrian malls to really make it feel more like a suburban mall, which was really booming at that time. And it actually had the opposite effect. It really decimated retail at a lot of these pedestrian malls."

From Sacramento Press: City staff - Cars on K good for business: "Eugene, Chicago and Louisville are some of the cities that have reversed course to add cars to their pedestrian malls, according to the April 27 staff report."

From Sacramento Press: K Street Mall ready for bicyclists (April 14, 2010): "The City Council unanimously voted on Nov. 24 to let bicyclists ride on K Street Mall. Installing the signage was the last step in the city's process of legalizing bikes on the Mall. The speed limit for bicyclists on the K Street Mall is 10 miles per hour"

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Published on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 in Capital Public Radio
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