I just finished reading an article in Esquire magazine about initiatives in New York City to establish plazas in such parts of Manhattan as Times Square, Union Square, Madison Square, along with some commentary about downtown Portland Oregon. I also am personally familiar with Pearl Street Mall in Boulder Colorado. All these venues were once major auto corridors and now are pedestrian only.
I think University Avenue in Palo Alto is a candidate for this sort of transformation. It is an awful street to drive on, and those of us who live in town know better. Hamilton and Lytton are much better ways to get between Middlefield and Alma.
I also am of the point of view that this could be just the thing to help revitalize a moribund downtown Palo Alto. Too many store fronts have sat empty for years. Too many retail shops that are not "chains" come and go in too short a time. The Esquire article indicates that retail sales in Time Square are up 71% since it went "plaza!"
Such an idea needs a champion or champions to make it happen. I would be such a champion if I did not have a day job. But I would be willing to be part of a group that advocates this idea.