Many renovations have been made to several locations downtown. Bike racks, parking lots and crosswalks have all been added to and upgraded.
Perhaps what students will notice most is that the E Street Plaza Parking Lot is no longer free.
“The lot was switched to ‘unpaid’ during the duration of the Second Street construction,” said Community Development administrator Katherine Hess. “The goal of having some paid spaces is to ensure that downtown visitors who are willing to pay a bit are nearly guaranteed to being able to find a parking space in the heart of the downtown.”
While this adds a level of convenience for many visitors to downtown, there are still those who would prefer the parking to remain free for all.
“However you look at it, the general development of paid parking and trend of it taking over areas that used to be free is a negative,” said Daniel Brawer, a junior political science and economics major. “Even if it provides convenience, it favors those able to pay a fee over those who are not.”
However the renovations to the E Street parking lot are not the only changes that have been made to the face of downtown. Another relevant upgrade is the presence of 11 on-street bicycle parking spaces just outside the Varsity Theatre.
“The significance of the on-street bicycle parking is that it treats bicyclists more like drivers than like pedestrians,” Hess said. “In addition, moving the bicycle racks to the street may free up sidewalk space for more outdoor dining or other pedestrian amenities.”
Brawer said he thought the addition of on-street bicycle parking, unlike the paid parking, was a bit more practical.
“I suppose it’s a bit better when they make room for it on the street as it leaves the sidewalks less cluttered,” he said.
Hess also noted that this does not mean there will be any shortage of parking on the sidewalks.
“We’ve installed a lot of bicycle racks on the sidewalk, too, recently – the demand keeps going up,” she said.
Another addition to downtown is the new style of crosswalks being implemented which feature ‘bulb-outs’. Hess seemed particularly excited about the bulb outs and their many benefits.
“The bulb-outs are the paved areas at the corner of each of the intersections,” Hess said. “In addition to providing a location for landscaping, lights, benches and bus stops, the bulb-outs make crossing the street easier for pedestrians because it shortens the curb-to-curb distance.”
The new crosswalks seem to be a hit with students as well. Brawer, who recently suffered an injury during an intramural sports game, said the sidewalks are especially helpful to his needs.
“The new design and new pavement are really nice, with a broken leg it is a lot easier to get around on freshly paved level ground,” Brawer said. “It also makes it a lot safer, for walking and biking.”
The new additions to downtown have been paid for by the federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and the City of Davis Redevelopment Agency funds.
AARON WEISS can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.