Last night my friends and I went to the West Hollywood Halloween parade. Oddly, the event is not a parade—more of a huge costume party in the middle of Santa Monica boulevard with many thousands of participants, food, cover bands, and dance music. What a blast!
One overwhelming observation gripped me: I like Santa Monica Boulevard eminently better without cars. With the roadblocks up we were able to walk right up to shops that we can barely get to by car (because of the impossible parking situation). More than that, its just a much friendlier place when it isn’t blighted by the automobile.
The obvious question is, “why don’t we just close it off for good?” Santa Monica did it with the 3rd street promenade and created a shopping and entertainment mecca for the whole west side. Why not West Hollywood? Why not every town in the country?
I noticed another phenomenon. As soon as the barriers were up pedestrians started reclaiming not just the Boulevard, but all of its cross streets as well. Only a few of these streets had officially been closed, yet people suddenly felt like they could begin walking in the middle of the street again. The lesson is, once you get cars off your main arterial streets, you can take back your town.
Lets do it. Keep pressuring your city governments to put up bollards and close main thoroughfares. We need more downtown walking malls. Get the cars out of our cities—for an event or forever—and everyone will be the better for it.