Should City Market Be Pedestrian Only?

Plans for any of this are not in the works to my knowledge so this discussion is purely speculative but what if cars were not allowed on the stone streets of City Market? I thought about this recently while I was walking down the skinny sidewalk on Blake St. (some of you know what I’m talking about) and was maneuvering through parked cars in order to get around. Granted, I could have just walked in the road since traffic is always light but it is still a road and cars have 24 hour access here. Would the shops in City Market benefit if cars were taken out of the picture?

City Market only occupies about a half block of space so we are not talking about a huge area. The parking lot to the east provides plenty of space for cars any time. What hasn’t been available before that is now is the parking deck across Blount St. There are over 1,000 spaces here and even on this month’s busy First Friday, there was a ton of room available here. (I know because we went up to the ninth floor to take pictures, great view)

So if the cars are gone, we would need to make the area more pedestrian friendly. One idea would be to make the sidewalks flush with the street. That way, pedestrians have plenty of room to walk and are not confined to a four or five foot sidewalk. Next, more trees would be needed for shade during the summer months. There are already some so a few more would make the area cozier, especially if more outdoor seating was offered. And as for the larger lot on Wolfe St., a public plaza could go here. Events are already held in Moore Square, and in the future City Plaza, so I think a larger gathering space would be appropriate. (maybe some public art?)

I really do not see taking the cars off the streets to have a negative impact on the businesses in City Market. In most cases, people do not come to a shop in City Market because they noticed it while driving by. This is because those short streets do not really take you anywhere so it is not a route many drive through. If City Market was marketed more as a place to stroll around with cool shops, places to eat and hang out then I think it would get a nice boost. Right now, the R-Line stop helps pour more pedestrians into this area so getting rid of the cars can make things easier and more inviting. And if anything, this might help land a solid tenant in the empty historic City Market building.

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19 Comments

  1. I halfway think that the semi-cobblestones are more hazardous than cars to pedestrians with modest or high heels :-)

    If the semi-cobblestones are flat enough for tables and chairs, and if there were more restaurants, I’d suggest closing the streets to cars on warm weekend nights so that restaurants could serve al fresco. They do this in Merida Mexico every Saturday and Sunday night and it’s just great.

  2. I dunno…it didn’t work for Fayetteville Street.

    A good compromise could be to take one of the parking lanes out widen the sidewalks accordingly. Would be an expensive undertaking though.

    Fortunately, City Market’s grid is pretty easy to cut off to cars for special events and such.

  3. Having a long distance owner doesn’t help. Look how long the old city market building has been vacant.

  4. I don’t think there is that much traffic through there to begin with. It’s fine how it is.

  5. This would not be necessary. Pedestrian activity on the sidewalk is far better than pedestrian activity on a street, IMHO. I have driven through there and I am not sure it is the best thing for a car… If I was to visit, I would look elsewhere for parking. Besides, cars can’t go fast on the cobblestone pavement. Not an immediate danger, if you ask me, plus an inconvenience to the stores that need to receive supplies frequently. Imagine having to deliver food to Big Ed’s without an easy access.

    I would certainly place getting the former Greenshields building filled, first on my priority list. If in the future the area gets populated enough and draws huge crows, we can limit those streets to pedestrians.

  6. What happened to the “events” type business that was suppose to take over most of the former Greenshields building several months ago? Actually I’m glad it hasn’t materialized due to the limited public access of most of the events that would take place at any given time. Some years ago the building was home to a food court of sorts. It seemed to be popular and was always crowded.

  7. I think pedestrian only would be a fantastic idea, you can’t really get your car safely down those roads really well anyway, they are SO narrow. It didn’t work for fayetteville st because its a straight road and things are spread out, but the city market area is small and more intimate. Plus, most of the district is art and restaurants.

    I completely agree with this idea.

  8. Fay’ville street. This town is too car centric and reduced parking may work, but it seems that the biz opportunities in City Market are too fragile to take away any sort convenience.

  9. As posted on: howrdudoin.com

    Any situation that gets people out of their cars and on their feet has only positive outcomes.
    It’s good for the person and it’s good for their surroundings. It eases traffic congestion and allows one to pass by shops more slowly. That is good for the businesses. It results in less wear on the infrastructure which costs the taxpayer less. There is less noise pollution and and more space when automobiles are not in the equation. It allows you to run into people who you care about but might not have seen for quite some time.

    And if you don’t have the time to enjoy these things then there are many other places for you to choose complete with 3 story parking garages, artificial lighting, and more.

  10. Whether or not it was the fact that cars were not allowed on Fayetteville St. that resulted in its demise is debatable. It died at the same time all of downtown died, and downtowns country wide died and everyone moved to the ‘burbs. If the same amount money that was invested in the infrastructure of the “new” Fayetteville St. were invested into say Wilmington St. (and all of the marketing) it would have a similar success. The one problem with the way Fayetteville Mall was that it was too much: too many fountains, statues, and even trees (and I love as many trees as possible, usually). The mall became invisible and not a wide open area for people and businesses. Pedestrian malls are successful all over, but they are wide open and very visible.
    That being said it would be great if City Market was without cars. The problem is that it would cost way too much without a huge benefit, because it is very low traffic already.

  11. If you don’t like driving or parking in city market, don’t, but I don’t think that cutting off vehicle access to the area makes sense. The businesses there need access to deliveries, etc. Having to make deliveries over cobblestone streets is crazy. That area is already having trouble renting their spaces. Having no access to the area other than by foot would not help their efforts to attrack businesses.

  12. Don’t end traffic but cut down or eliminate street parking. The beauty of the market is it’s quaintness; cars dominate the landscape. But then, I’m a photographer by trade so I’m biased. You’d think it would be a great location for photos but the parked cars make make it nearly unusable.

  13. […] The Raleigh Connoisseur A Downtown Raleigh Blog Posted by root 18 minutes ago (http://dtraleigh.com) Comment by l boyd middot no gravatar on april 9 2009 11 04 am absolutely other places for you to choose complete with 3 story parking garages artificial lighting and more powered by wordpress wp premium theme by wp remix Discuss  |  Bury |  News | The Raleigh Connoisseur A Downtown Raleigh Blog […]

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