BOISE, Idaho — A program designed to help several downtown Boise businesses keep going during the COVID-19 pandemic is still in effect.
It's been about a year since a section of 8th Street was closed to car and truck traffic after a vote by the Boise City Council, which made it possible for restaurants to expand patio seating all the way to the curb.
It appears the change is bringing some good results. A recent article in Bloomberg says that, based on the number of Yelp reviews and photos, 8th Street eateries saw more interest when the street went pedestrian-only.
Other than the inconvenience of people not being able to park on this street, business owners and patrons have been really happy with the pedestrian-only change, and don't want to see it go away.
At the start of the pandemic, the looks of an empty street, not even busy with traffic was pretty startling. But businesses quickly took advantage of an ordinance in place that allowed them to extend services to the curb, closing the street to foot traffic only. And so far, so good.
"In a lot of ways this has been really good for us. People love being able to walk up and down the streets, and in the summer you will see streets full of people and before you just saw them on the sidewalks," said Bruce Delaney, co-owner of Rediscovered Books.
"8th Street has always been one of our crowning jewels as a city downtown but what we have seen that's been able to make this experiment work, is a place that's filled with pedestrian traffic, people of all ages," said Sean Keithly, Boise's Director of Economic Development.
Keithly says businesses have reported very positive numbers, increases not only in 2020 and some of the worst months during the pandemic, but also comparing favorably to 2019.
The city has not made a decision on if the street will remain pedestrian-only or if it will reopen to one-way traffic.
The ordinance in place that allows businesses to extend services onto the sidewalk in front of their property is good through April of 2022, so unless city council makes any decisions in the meantime, this street will be foot traffic friendly until then.
And that goes for all businesses -- not just restaurants.
Delaney says they are planning on creating an outdoor patio for author events and wine-paired book readings, so businesses are getting creative and taking advantage of current settings.
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