A story in the Washington Post tells how D.C. is reclaiming city streets from suburban commuters and giving them back to residents. How? The city is converting one-way routes back to normal, two-way streets. And on wider streets, reclaiming an extra travel lane from speeding cars, transforming it into a median refuge so that pedestrians can get across the street safely.
Downtown Raleigh has a similar problem: one-way high-speed thoroughfares designed for just one purpose -- to speed drivers into and out of the center city as quickly as possible.
This approach treats the road as if it were only for motion, and never for access; as if people desired only to be on the move through downtown, and never actually lighting anywhere at a destination.
The effect of this approach? Here's an example: One of our best parks is severed from the surrounding area by four-lane speedways; no sidewalk dining opportunity or retail shopfront will prosper, as long as the adjacent street functions like the Cross-Bronx Expressway.
Traffic roaring through at high speeds isn't just bad for people walking. It also inhibits economic activity and prevents new businesses from capitalizing on a great downtown setting.
Maybe, just as D.C. is doing, it's time to give Raleigh streets back to residents and businesses, instead of favoring commuters and speeding cars from outlying areas.