Late at night when bars and restaurants are closing up and their patrons are headed home, downtown can be difficult to navigate as people and vehicles spill into the streets. Taxis, Uber drivers, personal vehicles and pedestrians are all competing for the same space at the same time and it can take a while to get out of downtown. It can also be unsafe.
One way Raleigh is trying to alleviate some of the traffic and noise during peak hours is by limiting the hours that drivers can make left turns. Left turns take more time to complete as drivers wait for oncoming vehicles to pass, so if cars are only moving forward or turning right, congestion should clear more quickly. Under a plan our city staff is studying, drivers would not be able to turn left at three intersections on Fayetteville St. and five on Glenwood Ave. Since the traffic is at its worst late at night on weekends, the current proposal would only be in effect from 10:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
This plan works because it does not seek to limit traffic by discouraging people from coming downtown in the first place. It will still be easy for people to get to their favorite bars and restaurants and all the existing businesses are still easily accessible. In fact, these changes to traffic patterns may actually make these establishments friendlier for pedestrians..
Any plan we choose will be studied before and after it is implemented to ensure it works well and does not have any unintended side effects. Whatever option we settle on, it will be designed to let our entertainment districts thrive while getting people home efficiently and safely.