Last weekend was the phenomenal French Market on Book Hill. It was the event’s 10th anniversary and was the best one yet. With luck, an innovation from this year will point the way toward more street fairs in Georgetown: wider sidewalks.
If there’s one thing most people agree on, it’s that Georgetown’s sidewalks on M and Wisconsin are far too narrow. GM would love a permanent fix whereby most, if not all, parking on M is taken away to widen the brick sidewalks. But that would be a huge and expensive project, possible someday perhaps but not anytime soon.
The French Market demonstrated, however, how we can temporarily widen the sidewalks with fantastic results. The city removed parking on Wisconsin Avenue and set up fences between the pedestrians and the traffic. Thus, essentially doubling the width of the sidewalk.
Crowding was always a problem with the French Market, but extra space substantially reduced that.
The city has traditionally been reluctant to shut down only part of the road. It cites the greater risk to pedestrians from possibly intermingling with traffic. But the French Market’s success should demonstrate that it is a good tool that should have wider use.
Topher Mathews blogs at The Georgetown Metropolitan . The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.