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DTK - King Street Summer Closure To Traffic
#1
With the great idea and positive discussion about the Gaukel Street Pedestrian Promenade, there has also been discussion about closing King Street to vehicle traffic between Victoria and Cedar. Mike Farwell brought it up the other week, and it's an idea I've thought about many times before. Specifically I thought it would be a great idea to just have a seasonal closure. For example have King Street become a pedestrian only street starting July 1st and going until the end of Oktoberfest. 

If King from Victoria St all the way to Cedar (Kitchener Market) becomes a pedestrian and cycling only, combine that with the Gaukel Street Promenade that leads to Victoria Park and I think you really create this unbelievable social space.

Curious to know what others think of the idea.



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#2
I've been saying for years we should do a Denver.

16th Street Mall is amazing.

https://www.denver.org/listing/16th-stre...mall/4249/
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#3
I like the idea, we already more or less have regular weekend closures through the summer. Making them regular and reliable would probably be less impactful than the semi-random mess we have now.

I do think you will get incredibly strong resistance from the BIA however, there is a well discussed windshield perspective there--but, it is changing slowly.

I would also submit (and this is my pet peeve) that a similar regular closure of Jubilee Dr. in the park is appropriate.

This kind of regular closure is the process by which NYC managed to close prospect park and central park to cars permanently.
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#4
That 16th Street Mall in Denver is awesome!

I was considering whether the businesses (BIA) would be resistant or if they would see it as a positive change. Although you lose vehicle traffic during the closure, your foot/pedestrian traffic would likely increase significantly (if the pedestrian promenade is successful). I don't have any empirical data, but seems reasonable to me that someone walking by a business is far more likely to be drawn inside, then someone driving in a car passing by. The opportunity exists for the entire street between Victoria and Cedar to become one big street market, linked to the Kitchener Market, that all the businesses along the route get to participate in. 

Also great points regarding King Street already having random closures throughout the summer, many people might miss these events. However, if the street is closed all summer it becomes a more regular draw.
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#5
I think the business owners themselves, not the BIA would be the hardest sell on closing King. Many of them believe cars having easy access to the front of their business (or parking extremely close by) is very important and that people driving by need to see them. I would argue that they're completely wrong and that folks on foot and on bike would be far more likely to stop in and spend more. I'm nearly sure there are studies that would back up that claim too.
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#6
Yeah, the studies definitely show this, but it doesn't change the fear business owners will have. You are right, the BIA is more likely to be progressive, but they are still representatives of the businesses.

Honestly, I think they are more likely to be supportive than before, but closing the street is still a big pill to swallow.
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#7
I think the Downtown BIA is likely to be the biggest obstacle, but I also think they're more likely to be a bit more amenable to closures than Uptown.

There's a few factors that I'm thinking of that contribute:
- Uptown was hit by several years of construction and uncertainty around timeframes. The construction work necessary for the ION downtown impacted King much less because the ION doesn't go on it. Uptown businesses are very closure-averse right now.
- The behaviour of drivers Downtown is different than those Uptown. In part because of the legacy of the Charles and Duke one-way circuit. While that's entirely gone, Downtown is structured in part to discourage car traffic on King St already.
- As mentioned up-thread, King street downtown is closed on a regular basis. Not just on weekends, on weekdays as well and unless you're paying close attention it seems random. Whether or not can drive straight through downtown in the summer is unpredictable, so I think folks avoid it a bit already. Because of that, I also think people who come downtown to shop are more aware of parking opportunities. Also, there's fewer interesting retail options downtown. It's mostly restaurants and events, versus boutiques, that draw people here.
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#8
People will recall that the seasonal closure of King St in DTK is not something new. I would like to see more details re programming for the space (ie closed for what?). Unless plans are in place for the full use of the space opened up, beyond the events for which it’s already closed, then I’d say the idea is not yet ready for prime time.
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#9
Buffalo tried something similar when they opened up their metro, by closing some DTB areas to cars. I don't have a lot of detail, but this is from Wiki:

Quote:In April 2011, the group stated that the 600 block of Main Street, which has Shea's Performing Arts Center along with hotels and bars, should be converted into a mixed automobile and rail system. The 600 block was re-opened to automobile traffic in 2015.

As for comparing Kitchener to Denver, I don't think that's a good metric. I am not saying it wouldn't work, but the two cities are very different.

For example, Denver's average Dec-Feb high is 7 degrees, versus the -1 in Kitchener (minus extremes). Buffalo is much closer to our temps, with about +1 being the average between Dec-Feb.

As for the city itself:

Denver Pop: est 704,000 -- Metro -- 2,888,000
Buffalo Pop: est 258,000 -- Metro -- 1,134,000
Kitchener Pop: est 248,000 -- Metro -- 540,000

Other issue: No LRT in DTK. It's off to either side. If the rails were running right down the King St, then perhaps the idea *might* fly. But even if Buffalo, a much larger urban centre, didn't have success, I just don't see how it might work here.
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#10
Would it help to start by restricting it to be one way? A single lane of traffic going in one direction only is very easy for pedestrians to cross, but still allows access to the (tiny number of) parking spaces in the area. The closed lane could become a two-way cycle track. I’m inclined to go straight to a full closure but I wonder if one way would be easier to accept for businesses. If it indeed shows an increase in foot and bicycle traffic, they might be more willing to accept a full closure.
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#11
(03-04-2019, 06:34 PM)jeffster Wrote: Buffalo tried something similar when they opened up their metro, by closing some DTB areas to cars. I don't have a lot of detail, but this is from Wiki:

Quote:In April 2011, the group stated that the 600 block of Main Street, which has Shea's Performing Arts Center along with hotels and bars, should be converted into a mixed automobile and rail system. The 600 block was re-opened to automobile traffic in 2015.

As for comparing Kitchener to Denver, I don't think that's a good metric. I am not saying it wouldn't work, but the two cities are very different.

For example, Denver's average Dec-Feb high is 7 degrees, versus the -1 in Kitchener (minus extremes). Buffalo is much closer to our temps, with about +1 being the average between Dec-Feb.

As for the city itself:

Denver Pop: est 704,000 -- Metro -- 2,888,000
Buffalo Pop: est 258,000 -- Metro -- 1,134,000
Kitchener Pop: est 248,000 -- Metro -- 540,000

Other issue: No LRT in DTK. It's off to either side. If the rails were running right down the King St, then perhaps the idea *might* fly. But even if Buffalo, a much larger urban centre, didn't have success, I just don't see how it might work here.

I would argue the LRT is in DTK.  Downtown extends more than just King St. I live at Joseph and I absolutely consider myself downtown.  Further, even if it you didn't, there are stops on King at Victoria and at Frederick.

The LRT will still serve the same purpose of generating ped traffic.

The real missed opportunity however was to convert the street into Bus/LRT only.  Not only would this have been a better system for users, it would have saved a fair bit of money and sped the LRT up a fair bit.

Alas, such an opportunity, much like logical stations at University and Columbia have passed.

The one hope I have is that one day, people think the LRT splits at downtown because the city didn't want the LRT going through this wonderful pedestrian plaza, and people will have entirely forgotten that cars were king on King and that's why the LRT splits.
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#12
Saint Catherine Street in Montreal closes every summer.

   
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#13
Montreal actually has an incredible 56 pedestrian streets, some permanent, some seasonal:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/...-1.4509941

We stumbled upon one randomly when visiting a few years back, it was delightful.
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#14
I am reminded that back in the days of King St being converted into a pedestrian mall for the summer, it was pretty cheesy, since everything was temporary. Mostly, it seemed to allow the merchants to set out sale merchandise out in the street. The disappearance of merchants in DTK sort of eliminates that aspect, but the cheesiness of temporary barriers and installations would still be a risk. What has worked particularly well in terms of the periodic summer closures of King St in recent years?
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#15
(03-05-2019, 08:41 AM)panamaniac Wrote: I am reminded that back in the days of King St being converted into a pedestrian mall for the summer, it was pretty cheesy, since everything was temporary.  Mostly, it seemed to allow the merchants to set out sale merchandise out in the street.  The disappearance of merchants in DTK sort of eliminates that aspect, but the cheesiness of temporary barriers and installations would still be a risk.  What has worked particularly well in terms of the periodic summer closures of King St in recent years?

One person's cheesy is another person's urban paradise
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