Making the Case for Car Free Weekends in Glenwood South

Glenwood South is the nightlife hotspot for Raleigh. Every Friday and Saturday nights Glenwood Ave transforms into a gridlocked mess full of cars cruising and throngs of people on narrow sidewalks.

This Google Typical Traffic map shows how congested the area gets on Saturday nights.

GoogleMaps

Currently the setup of Glenwood contains two travel lanes with on street parking and typical city width sidewalks.

Closing Glenwood Avenue between Jones Street and Johnson Street from Friday at 8 PM to Monday 5 AM would go a long way in promoting a safer experience for all in Glenwood South. Leaving the cross-streets open would allow for ease of emergency and restaurant pickup access.

Map showing area of closure: GoogleEarth

Benefits

  • Reduction of cruising vehicles blasting music and mufflers leading to less neighborhood noise complaints. While some may mention that they would resort to the side streets, I believe that wouldn’t be the case since most are trying to show off their vehicles to the people out on Glenwood.
  • Increased space for people to congregate, dine, and walk would lead to a more organized atmosphere which also leads to a safer atmosphere. Currently pedestrians are confined to the small sidewalks leading to a chaotic feel.
  • Minimal effort required to stage the closure and the city has ample expierence with similar spot weekend closures on Glenwood and Fayetteville.
  • More opportunities for outdoor seating for the restaurants along Glenwood leading to potential increase in sales.

Responses to Probable Challenges

  • What about emergency access? Currently, Glenwood Ave is gridlocked every weekend evening. It is easier for people to move out of the way than it is for cars stuck in traffic. Also by leaving the cross-streets open, it will be easy to reach any point. In addition, an clear zone free of any outdoor seating shall be maintained down the center of Glenwood.
  • What about access to parking lots? All of the businesses on this stretch would still have access to their respective parking lots from side streets.
  • What about pickup zones for the restaurants? With the cross streets remaining open, the points in which they cross Glenwood could be used as pop-up pick up zones or 5-minute parking spots. Also, the minimal disruption caused by this would likely be made up and more by the increased outdoor seating and foot traffic.
  • Won’t cruising just spill onto the other area streets? I find it highly unlikely. Most of the people are just cruising to show off and get attention. They would not get that attention on the other streets.
  • Is it worth the effort and cost? Temporary construction type barricades can be easily mounted and dismounted fairly easily. There’s also currently a large police presence patrolling the area every weekend which could be reshuffled without needing many more. If this turned out successful, retractable bollards could even be an option.

Next Steps

If you think this is a great idea, let City Council know by email, or speaking at a Council Meeting! Hopefully, we can get this going at least as a pilot project soon.

Cover Photo: WRAL Adam Owens

Opinions and insights are my own and are not representative of my employer or any organization. Any ideas displayed on this site are purely that – just ideas to help improve the future of the built environment.

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