Many of our readers have suggested that Flagler Street in Downtown Miami should be converted into a pedestrian mall. There are many arguments for and against such a move. During the 70’s and 80’s many cities in the United States tried to convert a portion of their central business district to a pedestrian only mall. Unfortunately, most of these projects failed for different reasons. One of the biggest reasons, I believe, is that Americans were leaving the city in droves to seek the suburban American dream. Although many cities had good intentions and vision, their timing could not have possibly been any worse. A perfect storm for pedestrian mall failure had already been set in motion by the suburbanization of America.
Today we find the suburbanization trend reversing itself. People are now choosing to live a more urban lifestyle, tired of long commutes and expensive gas, urbanization is now creating conditions to potentially develop successful pedestrian malls.
Last year I created a Flagler Street Transit Mall presentation for an Urban Revitalization Strategies class. My proposal was to develop a transit mall similar to the 16th Street Mall in Denver. The proposed Flagler Street Transit Mall would only allow buses to drive up and down Flagler Street with 5 minute intervals between buses. All other motor vehicles would be prohibited from using Flagler Street with the exception of delivery and emergency vehicles. All current on street parking would be removed and the sidewalks would be widened.
A good first step would be to temporary close Flagler Street to motor vehicles during a one week period before Christmas. This short experiment would give the Miami DDA, local businesses, and residents a feel for what could become of historic Downtown Miami.
Do you think Flagler Street could use some sort of pedestrianized mall or do you think it’s just fine as is? Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments section.
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