Click here to read about Goldman’s less-than-bright idea for Carytown in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch.
OK, other cities have turned certain districts into a no-motor-vehicles area on weekend days and some people seemed to like it. Even Carytown gets closed to motor traffic on special occasions, such as the Watermelon Festival. But I can’t say that I’ve heard of banning bicycles before. Maybe I need to get around more.
Paul Goldman has seen the future of Carytown, and it's green with no wheels.
Goldman, a Carytown regular and a candidate for Richmond mayor, is proposing to revamp the eclectic West End shopping district into a pedestrian mall to complement its mix of shops, boutiques and restaurants.
Some merchants, however, were skeptical of the idea.
Under Goldman's proposal, West Cary Street would be closed to cars, bicycles and anything else with wheels from Thompson Street to the Boulevard.
Cary then would be turned into a "street fair," with trees and gardens, that would be unrivaled in Virginia and on the East Coast, he said.
If Goldman wanted to keep motor vehicles out of Carytown on Sundays, say from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. -- strictly as an experiment -- for a few months and study the way it works out, then I’d be in favor of such a test. It would be a reasonable step that would cost little, and if folks didn’t like it then it wouldn’t take much to undo it.
But banning bicycles is silly. What needs to be done in Carytown, to do with bikes, is to enforce the law that forbids riding them on the sidewalk. Of course, the problem with that is the cops on patrol on bikes in Carytown routinely break that law, themselves.
Moreover, going to the expense of implementing Goldman's radical no wheels in Carytown plan, without the slightest idea of how well it would work, is crazy. Goldman’s idea amounts to making Carytown into an urban shopping mall of a sort. It reminds me of the blue-sky talk about the Sixth Street Marketplace ... before it opened. Uh, oh!
Perhaps there are some things the City of Richmond could to do to help Carytown, but Goldman’s idea to ban wheels is not one of them. The merchants of Carytown should do everything they can to reject it. Their thriving retail area isn’t broken and it doesn’t need to be fixed.
Carytown was not created by a government program. The merchants, themselves, did it with little or no help form the City of Richmond. The main mover for that early-’80s transformation was local coffee queen Tammy Rostov's father, Jay Rostov, who then operated Carytown Coffee & Tea.
Richmond has lots of problems that do need fixing. Carytown isn’t one of them.