Photo by Kristi + Scot Redman


Poll: Should Deep Ellum Streets Close to Car Traffic on Weekends?

As a side poll, dancing on tops of cars? Yea or nay?

This conversation has been brewing for a while now, as Deep Ellum reckons with its growing popularity as a weekend party destination. But video of a woman dancing on, and subsequently falling from, the roof of a car parked on Elm has brought the debate back to the forefront. Should police block off Deep Ellum streets during peak weekend hours?

Pros: Safety for bar-goers spilling out onto the streets at last call; it seemed like an OK thing to do in the ’90s; it can make the street feel more lively and fun; other places do it (see Sixth Street in Austin) and it works for them; clears the way for emergency response vehicles; general traffic management. Cons: Maybe things get “out of hand” and people misbehave; more street litter; you have to walk a few blocks to meet your Uber driver.

There’s only one way to settle this definitively. We’ll put it to a poll, as we do with all important issues. Vote with your heart and mind.


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  • Pol Pot

    If you close the streets, how will bands load in and out?

    If you shut down Elm and Main, what avenues do emergency vehicles take? There are times when they are stuck on Malcolm X or Crowdus as it is. Imagine every uber driver lining up on Malcolm just as a firetruck blares its siren. Probably not ideal.

    1) Make stopping and standing by Uber/Lyft drivers and Cabs on Elm, Main, and Commerce illegal and actually enforce it.
    2) Designate some of the parking spaces for band load in. Trees and 3 Links are pretty good about having bands use the spaces directly in front of their venues for this.
    3) Crowdus should be closed from Elm to Commerce. Making things more pedestrian friendly is the right way to go, so let’s start with Crowdus and see if that can be expanded from there.

    • Alex Macon

      These are good points, Pol Pot. A couple years ago, the Deep Ellum Foundation experimented with making Crowdus pedestrian-only:
      I remember the results being mixed, with a common complaint being that it became filled with people with nowhere else to go.

      • Pol Pot

        I remember and I did like it. The thing with “community spaces” is that they are generally open to everyone in the community, even those on the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder.

        If Lead Belly and Blind Lemmon were alive today, where in Deep Ellum would they be welcome?

        • Alex Macon

          Right. For the record, I’m very in favor of closing at least Crowdus–I thought the experiment of a couple years ago was worth continuing. I also think things would be better if the city would finally two-way Elm and Commerce.

          • Pol Pot

            Disagree with making Elm two way (Commerce might work since there are more lanes). I live on Elm, and the number of Uber drivers that block the road is aggravating as is. People will take their time getting out of an Uber, stand in the other lane while holding the door open, and then act as though you killed their cat if you honk to let them know they are standing in the middle of the street. Main street is two-way and it is always backed up.

            The bands and delivery trucks are limited to certain times of day/night and they are conscious of the fact they are blocking traffic, so they seem to be quick about it.

    • MattL1

      I don’t think load-in/out will be a problem, especially if they don’t close the street until 11 and, like you said, give band vehicles a spot in front of the venue prior to the closure.

    • Big Tex

      I disagree 100%. I recommend traveling to other major cities In Europe. they have poles that slide up and down to allow emergency response access. I have seen this in Florence, Rome, Paris. Also, bands will need to invest in a dolly and pull wagons. It’s that simple. Close down elm st. Cabs, Lyft/Uber can wait on Malcom x or over on the edge of crowdus. There’s no need to test. Simply catch up to the rest of the world.

  • We tried this once already. Someone needs to fact check me. Late nineties, early aughts? It didn’t work. If I recall, it was just Main Street. Closing it only opened up more space for troublemakers to come to Deep Ellum who had no intention of going to the bars and restaurants. They would just wander up and down the street. It was packed. And it didn’t feel safe. As a result, people who would otherwise want to spend money in those bars and restaurants stayed away.

    Again, someone with a better memory than mine needs to chime in and help me out.

    • Pol Pot

      That was the way it was in the early aughts. To complete the story, many of the people wondering the streets with no intention of going to bars were under 21. They would do shots in the stairwells of the 18+ clubs or drink in their cars. Then they would start fights, break into cars, etc. Then Deep Ellum turned into a ghost town.

      An alternative is to actual police the traffic. Go to a UT football game and watch the motorcycle cops go back and forth making sure cars are moving and not standing in the streets. Get designated spots for bands to load-in and out. Get a designated area for Uber/Lyft/Cabs to stand a block or two off the main parts of Deep Ellum.

  • dallasboiler

    I would support blocking some side streets; but I think that Commerce, Main, and Elm need to remain open.

  • Hannibal_Lecter

    Some of us live in these streets. When they tried this circa 2003 there was no provision for us and our guests to get to or from or homes.

    This is city’s usual attempt to make it *look* like they’re doing something, even if it’s irrelevant. The people in cars aren’t the ones assaulting, robbing and raping.

  • S. Holland Murphy

    Twenty-five years ago, I was invited to a limo birthday party in which the only purpose was to drive around Deep Ellum and squeal out the sunroof. I’m just thinking about today’s 12-year-olds. Where are they supposed to cruise? The main drag of Legacy West? The Parking Lot at the Star in Frisco?

  • Amy S

    Both. With forethought of what it should be to attract more people to the area. Because it has a monetary and social cost to make this happen. A hard partying area with or without cars can be limited in it’s appeal, yet requires a great deal of cooperation by all stakeholders. Great for those who operate in that zone, yet not for all businesses. Maybe start with one street, Main, and make Elm a 2 way street again.