There has been some buzz around London for a few years now about making one major street downtown into a pedestrian street; that is walking only, no cars.
Some people may scoff at this idea, but as someone who has walked many pedestrian streets in Europe, I am fully for this idea. They are some of the best memories I have of European cities. The vendors, the performers, just the atmosphere is great. The businesses in those areas get an major increase in traffic, as people have to pass slowly instead of driving and not looking in windows. There is a better area for cafe/pub patios and a chance to allow small vendors to set up temporary shops on the street for minimal cost, creating opportunities for new businesses.
So what is there to lose? Maybe 50 parking spots along a roadway. But there are many parking lots around the downtown area that could hold the spillover needed. Some traffic redirecting will be needed, but after the initial time period, Londoners will get adapt to it.
This type of thoroughfare will bring business to those along the streets, and hopefully add new businesses in the area. I can agree that something like this may need to be slowly applied, like maybe closing the streets on weekends for the first year. This will allow the public to get used to the idea and be a trial run for companies in the area, to see the benefits.
I’ve grabbed a few links to articles that agree to this way of downtown development. I’m open to discussion on this topic. I really do see this as the future of a downtown area, no just here but in other cities across Ontario and Canada.