Letters to the Portland Phoenix editors, September 7, 2012
AN IMPROVEMENT ON 'REIMAGINING'
I loved your "Reimagining Portland" ideas — except one.
Restricting Exchange Street to pedestrians is a cool thought, but repaving it with cobblestones, chic as they may be, poses a genuine headache to disabled folks like me who use walkers and wheelchairs.
Cobblestones would restore less 19th-century gentility than 19th-century inaccessibility.
ENDORSEMENT FOR 'RETHINKING'
Bravo to Calvin Dunwoody and the Phoenix for putting the pedestrianization of Exchange and Fore streets and like-minded projects front and center.
Exchange Street has limited traffic and parking, no bus routes, and is already the most valuable commercial real estate in Portland. Increasing pedestrian traffic will only make it more so. And why not include Market Street and the portion of Middle Street (around the Nickelodeon) to connect up to Monument Square?
Along the same lines, much of Congress Street could be pedestrianized, if only on a trial basis; and what is more, the development opportunity at Congress Square and an improved civic/public space at the intersection of Congress, Free, and High streets need not be contradictory.
While cars do have their place on the Portland peninsula (i.e., inside the many half-empty parking garages) pedestrians and cyclists are the key to commercial revitalization.
MEMBER, PORTLAND BICYCLE/PEDESTRIAN ADVISORY BOARD, OPEN STREETS SUB-COMMITTEE
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