• Outdoors Outdoors

Visitor shares before-and-after transformation after town implements vehicle ban in city center: 'Honestly I love my car but I love carless streets more'

"It's just heaven not having the honking while I eat."

"It's just heaven not having the honking while I eat."

Photo Credit: iStock

Outdoor dining with a side of car traffic? Not on the menu for anyone visiting Larimer Square in downtown Denver.

In a viral video, TikToker Alyssa Barber (@newlifestyleabb) brings viewers to the thriving community hub that was once just another busy city block. The transformation began with one simple rule: No cars. 

@newlifestyleabb Shoutout to our Uber driver who told us we had to come here if we were looking for grey walkable attractions! #larimersquare #denver #colorado #walkablecities #walkable #pedestrian #pedestriansafety #carcentric #ecofriendly #ecofriendlyliving #sustainable #sustainability #cityplanning #urbandesign ♬ I Think I Like When It Rains - WILLIS

Alyssa's video takes her audience right to Larimer Square's 2900 block on a sunny day as she strolls past storefronts, restaurants with roomy alfresco dining structures, benches, pedestrians, and bikers. String lights and state flags hang above the road, lending a homey feel.

The street in Denver's River North neighborhood "used to be car-centric," Alyssa explains in her voiceover, "but during the pandemic it shut down to provide more restaurant seating."

The car ban, intended as a temporary boost to the restaurant industry, extended post-pandemic thanks to its popularity among residents. Providing images of the bustling block before the restrictions, Alyssa reflects on how "it has turned into a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly community."

Limiting car traffic creates space to walk, bike, and play; allows city diners to enjoy eating outside without noise, fumes, or injury risk; and it even promotes community and connection.

"It's just heaven not having the honking while I eat," one user commented on Alyssa's TikTok.

Vehicle bans in urban areas can also lead to many large-scale positive impacts beyond an idyllic mealtime scene: Think improved public health, reduced loneliness and isolation, less pollution, cleaner air, and even opportunities for economic growth.

Will Larimer Square's 2900 block remain closed to cars for good? Right now, the Denver street's traffic-free future is up in the air — though a recent survey that showed 93.6% of community respondents supported the continuation of the vehicle ban is promising.

Commenters on Alyssa's TikTok agreed.

"I feel like every downtown should have something like this," one user wrote.

Another commenter's reaction was pretty much perfect: "Honestly I love my car but I love carless streets more."

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