Dallas City Councilwoman Vonciel Hill's Vision of a Car-Free Downtown
So it seems. During a lengthy City Council discussion this afternoon on a pilot program aimed at revolutionizing how Dallas does downtown parking through new services like Zipcar and smartphone apps, Hill turned to Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan.
"Ms. Jordan, I want us to look at the possibility of no vehicles in the [Central Business District]."
Not just no more parking meters. No more cars. Downtown -- the central part at least, around Main Street -- would basically become a big pedestrian mall.
Hill traced the idea to her time living in England about 20 years ago ago, when officials there (she was presumably referring to London) were first tossing around the idea of pedestrian-only zones.
They first tried to discourage cars by charging them for entering downtown during peak hours (this presumably a reference to London's congestion charge), but many drivers simply absorbed the fees and didn't change their behavior.
Finally, they opted to close certain roads to cars altogether.
Dallas, needless to say, isn't London, or New York, or Paris, or any one of the other cities that have performed high-profile experiments with car bans. Our downtown isn't exactly brimming with pedestrians, though Hill thinks relegating cars to the outskirts could help change that. Maybe not tomorrow, but "I really would like us to keep that point in mind as we move forward. At least keep it in the conversation."
Lest you think that Hill has been transformed into some forward-thinking hipster urbanist, keep in mind that this proposal was immediately proceeded by an equally impassioned rant about the need for parking meters to accept coins from now to eternity, because "I do not want to put a parking charge on my credit card."
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.
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