Wider Sidewalks Not a Walk in the Park

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The Georgetown Business Improvement District’s effort to widen pedestrian walking zones on the north side of M Street between Wisconsin Avenue and Key Bridge is coming under increased scrutiny.

It’s a manual-labor-intensive idea. Blocklong barriers have to be assembled for the weekend and then disassembled and stored Sunday night. It narrows traffic movement and decreases parking opportunities in order to give pedestrians in Georgetown a more leisurely way to shop and merchants a chance to get to know them better. Is it working?

“No one knew where to go,” Georgetowner Publisher Sonya Bernhardt texted one Saturday afternoon, with a photo of an empty pedestrian extension blocked by a blue cement barrier. It looked like an empty marathon runway.

“We know,” sighed Will Handsfield, the BID’s transportation director. “We’ve planned to put up planters and street furniture, but no one wants to be outside in the heat. Probably our main usage issue right now is shade. We’re exploring how to bring shade trees temporarily to the extended pedestrian walkway. Something on coasters.”

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