by Josh Cohen, TransLoc, IR Quality of Life Task Force
In the summer of 1997, half of my life ago, I sublet an apartment off of Gorman and worked as an intern for then-Wake County Manager Richard Stevens. Though I’ve been in the Triangle for 18 years, those two hot months in Raleigh are the only time I’ve lived in our state’s capital.
Back then, things in Raleigh were quieter. The old Raleigh Convention Center dominated the southern end of Fayetteville Street, which was still a pedestrian mall. The skyline didn’t bear a Red Hat or the green windows of PNC Plaza. The Hartford Whalers had just become the Carolina Hurricanes, though they wouldn’t call Raleigh home for another two years.
In 1997, Raleigh had a little more than half of the number of citizens it has now. Sure, parking could still be a pain, but nothing like it is now at certain times of day and certain parts of downtown. Congestion at that time was particularly bad heading west to Chapel Hill, not north on recently-opened 540.
Mobility in Raleigh has come a long way since then, giving us the R Line, over 100 miles of greenways, Walk Your City, and the Barrel Monster. It’s also given us the Hillsborough Street road diet, Snowpocalypse on Glenwood, and Fortify. Like I imagine it has for others, those 20 years have gone quickly. The next 20 years will as well, which means we need to start working today on the area’s parking and transportation challenges.
City decks are getting full and many elements of the Wake County Transportation Plan won’t kick in for years, though residents can benefit from increased bus service that has already hit the streets. But as the area continues to appear on seemingly-endless “best of” lists, what can we do today with transportation and parking to creatively help downtown businesses and restaurants stay accessible and vibrant?
Even with changes we make today, we also need to think about what we want tomorrow’s parking and transportation in Raleigh to look like. The streets--not the the famous oaks in her parks--are Raleigh’s single largest shared space. How do we want to use that space? What space should we allocate to pedestrians, cyclists, transit, special events like farmers markets and street fairs, and cars?
We’ll talk about these topics and more at the 6th Annual Innovate Raleigh Summit on November 9th at the Raleigh Convention Center. Please join us and help us think through Raleigh’s mobility challenges and opportunities for today and tomorrow.
Keep posted here for more Summit previews and interviews and get excited for our 6th Annual event on November 9, 2017 at the Raleigh Convention Center. Register Now!