March 4, 2007

Pedestrian Plans for Downtown Crossing

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.

1 comment:

  1. The money for this will be provided by the private sector so this so far is just a fantasy as to who will pay for it. The construction on the Filene's buildings will take years and virtually close down the area for years. In all the media the BRA and the Mayor don't address the small businesses and street vendors who will be killed by this. The plans will take many years and lots of money on top of the $250,000 they already paid the collaborative for this plan. This is inner city Boston, not Harrods, Newbury St. or Disney land. They don't seem to see the big picture and immediate impact on the people who own businesses in Downtown Crossing and their employees and families.