First let me say, I love and have always been a big fan of Main Street Pedestrian Malls. Unfortunately, I have also lived in a number of places, both in the U.S. and in Europe, where, after an initial popularity, these pedestrian areas failed, usually within 10 to 15 years.

For example, when I first lived in Santa Cruz for school, the Pacific Garden Mall was a terrific place to hang out and seemed to be wildly successful; moving back four years later, it was much less popular, with a very high vacancy rate and much lower foot traffic. Most people I talked to at the university considered it blighted, and the city was trying to figure out what to do with it. A few years later, the Loma Prieta earthquake hit, and as part of the rebuilding, the city converted it back to both pedestrian and auto use, which revitalized the street, even though it is now less charming.

With a little research, I found that this is more typical than not. One study for the City of Fresno seems to sum this up:

I truly wish it’s not the case, but this might be a bad idea.


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