A viral tweet has invited urban dwellers to imagine what it would be like if their city pedestrianized one of its major streets, just as Montreal did last summer.
City planner Brent Toderian (@BrentToderian) shares photos of Montreal’s Plateau avenue, Mont-Royal, which show pedestrians ambling about the street unhindered by busy traffic.
Around 1.5 miles of road was turned into a pedestrian promenade with 2,700 seats.
“Just stop and think about this for a minute — what if YOUR city transformed a key main street this coming summer,” he tweets.
Just stop and think about this for a minute — what if YOUR city transformed a key main street this coming summer (like Montreal did with #MontRoyal, actually one of TEN such street transformations last summer) into a 2.5km long pedestrian promenade & living room with 2700 seats? pic.twitter.com/YeUnHp7Fqh— Brent Toderian (@BrentToderian) March 16, 2023
Montreal is set to repeat the pedestrianization this summer, with Mont-Royal and Duluth Avenues both becoming walkable earlier than usual.
Mont-Royal will be closed to cars from May 20 and Duluth from June 19.
Walkable cities have great benefits both for local residents and for the planet. Increased walkability can help bring down transport costs for locals, as well as increase the use of outdoor spaces like parks.
The reduced traffic also improves the uptake of alternative transport, like cycling or public transport, which brings down pollution.
In Paris, one car-free day in 2015 reduced smog by 40%. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that a walkable environment can cut planet-warming air pollution by around four tons a year.
Unfortunately, U.S. cities remain some of the least walkable in the world, according to a report from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. While New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Baltimore are among the most walkable cities in the U.S., many urban areas succumb to urban sprawl, which makes them difficult for pedestrians to navigate.
But the report notes that many U.S. cities are already taking steps to increase walkability, mainly through policies that tackle urban sprawl and encourage the integration of communal and residential spaces.
In the Tweet’s comments, one user replies with a video showing Montreal’s walkable promenade in full swing.
“The visuals don’t even do justice how incredible an experience it is,” they write. “The sights and sounds of a city living on an open street are just incredible.”
“It’s awesome. Cross streets still open so traffic still flows. Pretty sure most shops love it, street is extremely busy,” another adds.
“The main street (Sydney Rd) in my suburb in Melbourne gets closed annually for a festival & we were thinking this year how lovely it would be if it was like this all the time,” says another commenter.
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