I was amused and jollied the other day to see the Christmas tree set up on Reid Street, outside Gibbons. The department store has commandeered a car parking space and erected a Christmas tree, decorations and all.
I believe it's great for a couple of reasons. First, every time there is talk of pedestrianising lower Reid Street, business owners are understandably concerned that the loss of street parking will result in a loss of customers. After all, this is a community that thinks the walk from Bull's Head Car Park on the north side of the city to Front Street on the south side is akin to a mini version of the End-to-End trek. Never mind that distances in Hamilton are measured in yards not miles. While the Christmas tree results in the loss of only one parking space, it adds immeasurable sparkle to the season. Kudos to Gibbons for doing it!
Second, the pedestrianisation discussion is more than 20 years old now, so shouldn't we try to move things along? A slow but determined occupation of car parking spaces might help demonstrate that Bermudians can walk and we do love to shop. The Gibbons Christmas tree would be even more wonderful, for example, if the store had taken over two spaces, installed some benches for weary shoppers and - voila! - created a parklet. Further down the street the Chatterbox Cafe could place benches and small tables in front of its shop too.
Maybe, instead of assuming all cars will be removed at once - clearly a disturbing prospect for some - we could build up to it? Make lower Reid Street vehicle-free for just the weekend to start? Design and install a series of parklets so that shoppers and businesses can envision the future? We can see how that works and then try a little more for a little longer.
The possibilities are quite wide ranging but we should either get on with it or stop talking about it.