The Balancing Act

Feb 4, 2023 | 0 comments

Downtown Long Beach

Last evening during our Friday Night Gathering, Jean Nitzel mentioned that she had tried (years ago) to interest the City Fathers of Long Beach in converting the main street to a Pedestrians Only Zone — just from Bolstad Avenue to Sid Snyder Drive and just in the summer.  It didn’t get anywhere back then — a gazillion excuses were given beginning with “that stretch is part of the State Highway System…”  But they didn’t even try, Jean said.

Rue Mouffetard, Paris

And, I must say, there wasn’t much discussion about it last night, either.  I’m not sure why.  I thought it was a great idea, myself, and was reminded of the many streets in Europe that are “pedestrians only” — Rue Montorgueil in the Latin Quarter of Paris, Carnaby Street in London, Strøget in Copenhagen — and many others throughout the world — even in Seattle.  I was saddened that the city of Long Beach wouldn’t even give the idea the time of day.

There are also streets called woonerfs — a street or square where cars, pedestrians, cyclists, and other local residents travel together without traditional safety infrastructure to guide them.  Also, sometimes called a “shared street,” a woonerf is generally free of traffic lights, stop signs, curbs, painted lines, and the “usual” guides to travel behavior.  The idea behind them is to reduce accidents and, amazingly, the statistics prove that this has happened.

While I can’t quite image the main drag in Long Beach becoming a woonerf, I must say that on many days in the summer, Territory Road in Oysterville comes close.  And my observation is that everyone is more observant and courteous and many of our visitors really take time to enjoy the village — a pleasant change from the usual speed-through at 40 mph!



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