CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A Charlottesville woman is calling on the city council to close down Fourth Street to vehicular traffic saying the dangers far outweigh the benefits. Right now, that online petition has more than 150 signatures calling for the Fourth Street crossing to be closed down to car traffic, with some exceptions.

This is not the first time a petition has circulated to close down the Downtown Mall crossings for safety reasons. In 2018, Charlottesville City Council authorized a threat and risk assessment for the Downtown Mall which included the crossings at Second and Fourth streets. 

Among the suggestions was establishing certain vehicle access times outside of peak pedestrian traffic. Another was using anti-ram devices like bollards or other barriers to prevent most vehicles from using the crossing, while still providing access to delivery trucks and emergency personnel.

“The experience of visiting the mall is being free of that worry about cars so I think more people would come if they didn't have to worry about it. I also recognize that you do need access for some vehicles, emergency vehicles maybe delivery trucks for some of these businesses, other things, there are ways to block it off,” said Aileen Bartels, who started the petition.

“You are going to lose businesses. You're going to lose some of the flavors of the mall because people need those cross streets,” said Joan Fenton, with Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville.

Many Downtown businesses have not supported crossing closure efforts in the past. Bartels hopes to get at least 1,000 signatures before presenting it to the Charlottesville City Council.

Bartels also wanted to emphasize that her petition is not directly related to the events of August 12, she said it’s part of it, but her main focus is on safety.