Pedestrian Malls: The What, Where And Why

Pearl Street, Times Square And Seaport Village: What Do They Have In Common And Can Frederick Join Them?


A map depicting the layout of Downtown Frederick, centered on North Market Street.

In a not-so-small town in Colorado named Boulder, there exists a street center to the city’s livelihood. Pearl Street, a 4 block longer main street lined with restaurants, shops, arcades, theaters, and more. But what truly makes this main street unique is its classification as a “Pedestrian Mall,” otherwise known as a main street closed off to all cars. Pearl Street isn’t the only Pedestrian Mall in existence, other notable entries being Seaport Village in San Diego or Times Square in New York City. But what makes pedestrian malls so beneficial to the city experience?

The simple answer really comes down to the convenience and safety of the pedestrian. In a more traditional city like New Orleans, pedestrians are required to constantly watch for cars as they storehop and to take into account the patterns of traffic when planning a day out. This is not only a hassle, but more dangerous as it leads to an increase in collisions and injuries when attempting to cross streets. A pedestrian mall solves for this by making a space just for pedestrians, removing the added stress and danger of vehicles. In a CNBC article on pedestrian malls, Liam Mays writes that after New York closed Broadway to cars, “While initially controversial, this change quickly decreased traffic accidents, especially those involving pedestrians, and increased foot traffic in the neighborhood, according to HR&A Advisors.” Not only do pedestrian malls decrease car accidents, they increase the foot traffic to said areas, which will by turn create greater profits for the local stores and help the city’s economy.

Not only do pedestrian malls decrease car accidents, they increase the foot traffic to said areas, which will by turn create greater profits for the local stores and help the city’s economy.

In a more global scale look at the issue, pedestrian malls help decrease the amount of dependency people have on cars. In a World Economic Forum article, Marcela Casas states that “On most days, our city streets are clogged with motorized traffic and, in some cases, crime and pollution. Temporary car-free space thus becomes a platform to exercise our right to the city and to co-create a new urban vision.” The dependency most cities have on cars has led to greatly increased air pollution and less daily exercise for people who live in said cities. Pedestrian malls don’t fully mitigate the issue, but they help to reduce it by giving people a space where cars aren’t needed. This leads to not only decreased pollution, but an increased sense of community and understanding with your fellow citymates. In all, pedestrian malls have many benefits that explain why more and more cities are seeking to make them. 

Bringing this local, one street comes to mind for any member of the community: North Market Street in Downtown Frederick. A street much like Pearl Street, roughly 4 blocks long, lined with restaurants and shops and theater and everything else. Yet North Market Street has constant cars running down the center. Speaking from personal experience, the hassle of trying to storehop while consistently having to wait at crosswalks and move to the end of blocks just to cross a street, not to mention the times you have to wait to continue walking forward if cars are coming perpendicular to the street. I know I’m not the only one who’s experienced similar frustrating experiences at North Market Street. So, consider this: Turn North Market Street into a pedestrian mall!

It may be easy to raise concerns about the idea when initially heard, such as North Market Street being the main way people traverse through Frederick or if Frederick even gets enough foot traffic to make this worth it. However, these concerns aren’t valid when considering the layout of Frederick and nature of pedestrian malls. North Market is surrounded by multiple one way streets that traffic could easily be redirected through, and as shown before pedestrian malls increase foot traffic and amount of people by just being places for people to walk around and enjoy. With all this considered, I open the floor to you: Do you think Frederick should turn North Market Street into a pedestrian mall?

Should North Market Street Become A Pedestrian Mall?


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