This video by Streetfilms talks about the results of New York City’s closing of parts of Broadway to vehicular traffic. Pedestrians have taken over and created a space for themselves. There is also no increase in traffic problems after two months of the streets being limited to cars.
Fayetteville Street was once a pedestrian mall from 1977 to 2006. Five blocks from the capitol to the old civic center were pedestrian only. Streetfilms brings up the term, Road Diet described as:
A road diet is a technique in transportation planning whereby a road is reduced in number of travel lanes and/or effective width in order to achieve systemic improvements.
Was the Fayetteville Street pedestrian mall too much of a diet or did it come at too early of a time for Raleigh?
If you look at a picture of Fayetteville Street before the 1977 makeover, you can see that it was much wider then it is today. Actually, the original width of all four roads leading from the capitol, those being Hillsborough, Halifax, New Bern, and Fayetteville, were at one point 99 feet wide, according to the original plan by William Christmas. I’m pretty sure Hillsborough Street still retains the original planned width so you can use it as a reference.
There are lots of factors to consider here but I’ll try and keep it simple. Currently, Fayetteville Street’s road is thinner, compared to its original layout, resulting in wider sidewalks and a more pedestrian friendly environment. The balance between cars and pedestrians seems appropriate for the way Raleigh has developed over the last 30 years. The pedestrian mall never stood a chance with the way Raleigh sprawled out and forced people to buy cars and love highways. However, with green being so hot right now, people driving less, and mass transit being pushed, a long walkable area may slowly start to seem like a good idea.