Picture this: you step out of your favorite local lunch spot onto the shaded street. A fountain bubbles nearby and the sun reflects off a row of bustling stores, restaurants, and coffee shops. You cross the street, nodding to couples reading books and playing chess, and enter your favorite store to shop their seasonal sale.
Wait a second — did you look both ways before crossing the street? No, but you don’t need to. You’re shopping on a pedestrian-only street, like Miami’s Lincoln Road.
So, what is a pedestrian-only street? It’s a street that prioritizes foot traffic and eliminates vehicular activity in corridors with commercial spaces on both sides of the street.
While Lakeland doesn’t currently have any pedestrian-only streets, that doesn’t mean we can’t imagine what that might be like. You can see the impacts of one using this interactive tool.
According to the Global Designing Cities Initiative, pedestrian-only streets offer many benefits:
- Opportunities for community activities (sitting, dining, performing, etc.)
- Increased foot traffic to businesses
- An attractive and safe environment
- Revitalization of forgotten or unutilized alleyways
- Improved connectivity to city hubs
- Increased revenue to nearby businesses
A 1962 case study on pedestrian-only streets took place in Copenhagen on Strøget Street. Many locals feared that removing cars from the street would damage businesses along the corridor, but the results of the study showed otherwise.
Within 1 year of the street’s conversion, businesses saw a 35% increase in the number of pedestrians coming through their doors. Between 1962 and 2005, available space for pedestrians increased by 600%, and outdoor cafe seating increased by 81% by 2006.
Between 1968 and 1996, “stop and stay” activities (that means things that get patrons to linger + spend their money) increased by 400% at businesses on Strøget Street.
So, where could a pedestrian-only street work in Lakeland? Let us know.