I was happy to read last week that consultants working on revamping Downtown Crossing want to create "an oasis replete with sidewalk cafes, bicycle taxis, and a fresh-foods market similar to Harrods Food Hall in London," according to the Boston Globe.
The plan being drawn up by Urban Marketing Collaborative would expand the pedestrian zone to portions of Bromfield and Frnaklin streets, along with eliminating the curbs between "street" and "sidewalk" to make more of an overall inviting atmosphere for walkers.
"We want to open up the area as much as possible to pedestrians and create a meeting place for people to stop, shop, and spend their money in Downtown Crossing," Maureen C. Atkinson, a senior partner with the consultancy.
"Over time, the pedestrian aspect has been frittered away -- with delivery vehicles all times of the day and curbs everywhere," Chris Beynon, with another consultant working on the project, MIG, told Globe reporter Jenn Abelson.
Despite the area's heavy foot traffic -- it always seems jammed with people in nice weather -- the Globe notes that the district isn't doing as well with many other nearby retail centers.
These ideas are moving in the right direction. Simply closing an area off to traffic doesn't make an enticing retail district for walkers, any more than simply installing sidewalks makes an appealing walkway. In addition, there are few outdoor destinations in Downtown Crossing right now, encouraging people to walk through instead of stop. Sidewalk cafes along with more attractive streetscape could be a magnet in spring and summer.