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Walkability Group: Don't Completely Ban Cars From Plaza

Walkable and Livable Communities Institute would rather see an incremental approach

May 23, 2014, 11:30 am

 A pedestrian advocacy group that the city contracted with to study Santa Fe's walkability issues isn't fully on board with banning cars from all streets in the Plaza.

"We're not supporting that completely," Robert Ping, a program manager with the Washington State-based Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, tells SFR.

Ping praises the city's downtown area as one of the most walkable and pedestrian-friendly parts of the city.

"Right now we feel where it's at is good," he says of the Plaza.

But his organization also favors doing more "temporary blockages"—events that would block cars from all streets during significant chunks of certain days. Santa Fe does already block off parts of downtown during summer events like Fiesta de Santa Fe, but Ping says the city should experiment with its ideas.

He mentions an event in Portland where a seven-mile loop of roads are blocked off for bikes and pedestrians for five Sundays of the year as an innovative approach. 

He says that temporary traffic closures in the Plaza should be accompanied with city officials studying how the events are affecting downtown traffic flow.

"Do it temporarily," he says. "See what the reaction is ...and then make a decision at that point."

In his "People to the Plaza" initiative, Mayor Javier Gonzales is proposing to close car traffic on the Plaza from Memorial Day through Fiesta de Santa Fe, which occurs around Labor Day. Gonzales' resolution currently sits in the city's public works committee.


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