We were very excited when our local city planners began construction of a walking plaza here. They blocked off each end of the main thoroughfare - a small street of shops that had little attraction because we have a hugely popular indoor mall a block over - and new signs appeared diverting traffic to a linking road. We patiently lived through the constant sound of road-building -- the whole area was being resurfaced -- because we were going to have a little oasis at the end, a perfect pedestrian mall, outside.
The construction guys finished and moved out and we curiously wandered into the area. There were now lots of benches along the sides (although we were puzzled by the new sidewalks). There were some trees, planters filled with flowers, but then we saw that there were traffic lights at each end of the block, and that a very small amount of cars still used the road.
The Powers-That-Be had decided to allow vehicles through our pedestrian mall. Store owners and others with business in the area had made a fuss and were permitted access by car. The whole thing had been a huge mirage. We had been duped. The only things that changed were the addition of more plant life, and a reduction in the amount of traffic.
So my painting this week is my idea of a perfect plaza, one where you can sit in quiet contemplation, or have a snack, do a little shopping, and not be overpowered by noise and bad air quality.
These places are common in Britain. Almost every small town has turned its high street into a car-free zone. We don't seem able to get it right. Of course, I still have hope that Council will reconsider our re-vamped street. Obviously reducing traffic has some benefit, but we deserve more. We are not all genetically attached to the car.