To say that pedestrianizing a street is killing its trade is a fallacy. Even today there are many voices that continue to rely on this idea to justify their staunch defense of the car. However, the story of Strøget, the longest pedestrian street in Europe, easily disarms all these theories.
To be fair, Strøget is not a single street, rather it is an avenue that concentrates various sections from square to square. Even so, the entire artery is pedestrianized, which means that you can get around on foot or by bike to your liking without having to worry about the appearance of traffic. This, however, was not always so.
Before 1950 Strøget was still just another avenue located in the heart of Copenhagen. Nothing differentiated it from the parallel streets. Traffic in the center and sidewalks on the sides. However, due to its privileged location, the City Council decided to close traffic for two days during the Christmas holidays to encourage people to walk around their city.
These two days without traffic were repeated throughout the 1950s until in 1962, with an exponential growth in the number of cars in the city, they decided to extend the closure throughout Christmas. What was proposed as a provisional closure was so successful among the population that they decided to keep the avenue that way. Since that day, no car has passed through Strøget.
For both natives and foreigners, it is unthinkable to consider Strøget as a street for driving by car. However, when this pedestrian system was started, many local merchants thought it would scare away customers and took a stand against it. Now, 61 years later, Strøget is one of the most important shopping streets in the world... Who knew, right?
Strøget shows us that taking space away from motorized vehicles to offer it to pedestrians and cyclists not only does not harm trade, but can feed it. Copenhagen already did it in 1962 and the results have been fantastic. The rest of the world may think you are late, but you should never be late when it comes to improving mobility.