EDITORIAL – What we learned from the 4th Avenue pedestrian mall experiment

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

NOW THAT THE EXPERIMENT with the 4th Avenue “pedestrian plaza” is finished, what did you think?

Did you go there? Did you sit at a table, have something to drink or eat, chat, relax?

I’ll bet you didn’t because very few did. For the most part, it looked like a lonely place.

Compare it to Hot Nite in the City. Once again, thousands strolled down closed-off Victoria Street and the cross streets from 1st to 6th. Why were they there? To do nothing more than look at old cars.

But Hot Nite has become a do-not-miss event for one day every August. The crowds that packed into the downtown core for seven hours on Saturday illustrated the kind of buzz a pedestrian mall needs to make it worthwhile. Tables and planters and occasional street musicians aren’t going to convince more people to shop downtown.

Nonetheless, some valuable lessons were learned that can be taken back to the drawing table.

The big take-away, in my view, was that trying to segregate pedestrians and vehicles in downtown Kamloops isn’t an answer. There just isn’t the year-round activity needed to pull off a pedestrian mall on a daily basis.

What might work, though, is finding a way for pedestrians and vehicles to peacefully co-exist, one that doesn’t rely on anything other than some serious traffic calming and a place for people to take a break during their day. They don’t need to be entertained by paid performers.

I’m thinking of a Kamloops version of the Shaftesbury Monument in London’s Piccadilly Circus, where traffic passes by at a sedate place, and those on foot do little other than take a load off by sitting around the steps at the base of the fountain.

It’s really just a glorified roundabout and it’s simple in concept but it works, and something like it could be done at the intersection of Victoria and 4th or Victoria and 3rd.

And that advice is absolutely free.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

About Mel Rothenburger (6691 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

5 Comments on EDITORIAL – What we learned from the 4th Avenue pedestrian mall experiment

  1. This so called pedestrian mall was in the wrong place to begin with. It should have been closer to shops, and eateries further downtown. Pierre is partially right, with all of the undesirables hanging around downtown, no one is comfortable just taking a stroll there.

  2. The only way we are going to have a leisurely stroll downtown is clear the streets of street people, druggies and mules. Yesterday on a short visit to the drug store at Victoria and 3rd I was constantly aware of at least a dozen street people hanging out in fact one was laying across the side walk near intersection with his friends — in addition there was a quite a few young mules on BMX bikes making deliveries with complete disregard for vehicular traffic or pedestrians. Clean up the downtown before we think about pedestrian friendly areas.

  3. Strolling leisurely downtown…I have tried, believe me I have tried.
    Three things I find difficult to deal with:
    1) Big unmuffled diesels and noisy Davidson (aka Harley-Davidson) showing off and racing through a yellow.
    2) The groups of distraught or bad intents people lurking about.
    3) The sickly looking trees decorating it.

    • ” Big unmuffled diesels and noisy Davidson (aka Harley-Davidson) showing off and racing through a yellow. ”

      Seriously Pierre ? Loud vehicles, and motorcycles are an issue all over the city, not just downtown. Hardly as bad as you constantly protest though.

      What’s wrong with the trees ? They look fine to me.

      • It is my opinion, shared by others but obviously not you, that ummuffled diesels and noisy Davidson are an extremely annoying issue, downtown and everywhere else.
        The trees are not “fine” at all. Their poor shapes and the amount of dead wood throughout their canopy are two obvious and important tree traits. There are only relatively few nice public trees decorating our streets around the city.

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