What if we were to close Main Street to motor vehicle traffic and make it an exclusively pedestrian and bicycle corridor?
It seems to me that it would enhance cyclist and pedestrian safety, encourage the type of walkable retail and bars/restaurants that Downtown needs, decrease motorist frustration at being stuck behind a bicycle, and enhance motorist and transit safety by eliminating the motorist [illegal] left turns that still hit the Metro rail cars sporadically.
Already, driving Downtown on Main Street is not ideal for a motorist. The ban on left turns and the pedestrian zone that cuts off Main Street at Main Street Square make it not very useful to a motorist for traveling through Downtown. If you add in now being stuck behind cyclists as well, it just seems to make more sense to re-route that traffic to Fannin or Travis, where there are plenty of lanes for cars to travel.
With all of the new businesses coming in on the North side of Downtown (Goro & Gun, Pastry War, Batanga, Bad News Bar, OKRA, Clutch City Squire, El Gran Malo, etc.), having an even safer pedestrian environment for customers to move about promotes greater economic activity. This also ties in nicely with the city’s new BCycle rental bike program. Tourists or Houstonians visiting Downtown and renting a BCycle could be directed to our fantastic Main Street bike lane to check out the rest of Downtown or as a way to get to points in Midtown.
Swamplot, Hair Balls, and PDiddie, who heartily approves, are on this as well. I too think this is a good idea; note that it is only traffic on Main that would be closed, not the east-west traffic that crosses Main. I’m old enough to remember, and to have worked downtown, before the rail line was built. Main was two lanes each way, and left turns were forbidden downtown. You didn’t get stuck behind a bike if you drove on it for some strange reason, but you did get stuck behind buses. There are plenty of good alternatives for north-south driving downtown, and in my experience now hardly anyone drives on Main anyway, since why would they? I’d limit the closure to between Pierce and Franklin – the train stays on Main through Midtown, but the driving options dwindle as you head south, and there is more vehicular traffic on that part of Main – but otherwise, the argument in favor of a fully pedestrian-and-bike corridor through downtown seems clear. I don’t know what the city has to do to make this happen, but I’d like to see them study it.