Bedford Avenue to Go Car-Free Four Saturdays This Summer

bedfordmap.jpg
Brooklynites fretting that their borough would be excluded from this summer’s car-free fun can rest easy. For four consecutive Saturdays beginning on July 19, Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg will be closed to cars from Metropolitan Avenue to North Ninth Street from noon to 7 p.m.

"Williamsburg Walks" is spearheaded by Billburg.com in association with neighborhood merchants and residents, Transportation Alternatives and DOT (though it’s not officially part of the Summer Streets rollout). As organizers are taking pains to point out, the event is not a street fair — no scheduled events, no tents, no tube socks — but an opportunity for locals to enjoy public space free of auto traffic. Said coordinator Connie Colvin to the Brooklyn Paper:

“It’s really an experiment of letting the community take over the
streets … People can sit out in
the street and do whatever they’d like. We expect for it to be a
reflection of the area and the community — the artistic community, the
Polish community, the Latino community.”

Billburg has more info and an online forum, and completists may be interested in the event brochure [PDF].

We have word that a proposal to open Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights to pedestrians is still in the "what if" stage. And the Park Slope Civic Council is working on four car-free streets events, on 5th and 7th Avenues, though prospects for this summer are uncertain.

It looks like Emil Choski wasn’t crazy after all. While he didn’t do any of the real organizing or politicking, the publicity-generating freelance Choski began promoting the idea of a Car-Free Bedford in the spring of 2005.

  • Jeffrey Hymen

    The executive director of the Montague Street BID has held a public information meeting and presented to the downtown community board. Sounds like more than “what if” to me.

  • The Montague BID’s website has this notice on the front page:

    Summer Space, a temporary environment for people-watching and relaxation, is coming to Montague Street on Sundays this July.

    Three blocks — from Clinton down to the Promenade — will be transformed into pedestrian piazzas under a pilot program launched by the BID and NYC DOT. The program will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., staring on Sunday, July 6th, continuing on the three Sundays that follow.

    More information is available in our summer newsletter. Please contact us at 718-522-3649 for more information on how your business can participate.

  • JP

    Can we get a car-free BQE?

  • It seems like Brooklyn may be ahead of Manhattan on these matters: four Saturdays (as compared to three), seven hours (as compared to six), and a time when most of us aren’t catching up on sleep.

  • Looks like Montague is confirmed, according to the DOT website:

    About DOT
    Commissioner’s Corner

    Re-imagining the Public Realm – June 2008

    (Most of note deleted)

    We will also be experimenting with slightly smaller street openings that have been requested by communities and businesses on Montague Street and Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. Here, the locals determined the extent of the events and will determine how they look and feel.

    These temporary changes, much like our temporary plazas program, allow us to push the boundaries of how we use our city’s streets. They provide us with a valuable training ground, where we can test new ideas, figure out what works well and what needs refinement, all the while inspiring New Yorkers and visitors to squint their eyes and blur the boundary between streets and public space.

  • Thanks all re Montague. That’ll teach me to web verify.

  • john the bicyclist

    “…the artistic community, the Polish community, the Latino community”?

    What about all the over-endowed trust funders while you are at it?

    Why is it that only the prime neighborhoods get this benefit?

    There needs to be a city-wide reduction in vehicle travel, not just the “nice parts”.

  • bureaucrat

    john, i doubt anyone would disagree with you. however,
    1) wealthier neighborhoods tend to be more vocal in organizing and demanding things – that’s just a fact of life
    2) the city has limited resources to try to make up for #1
    if you have any suggestions then pls let them fly

  • bicyclebelle

    To John: My understanding is that the locals you are disparaging worked hard to make this happen. Transportation Alternatives says, “If you want to learn how replicate this program in your neighborhood, contact lindsey@transalt.org.”

  • Contact TA. With a bit of planning you can easily get the permits in place to close a block(s) for a few weeks in a a row, but you have to do it ahead of time and usually three months out.

  • Over at billburg.com, we are very excited about Williamsburg Walks and want to make sure that all members of the community are informed. We have a forum as noted above set up for questions and comments: billburg.com/walks/discuss, but I wanted to take a minute to personally post in response to other comments.

    Transportation Alternatives has been indispensable in getting this to happen in Williamsburg. It will take some initiative & a good deal of work, but if we can do it here, you can do it too! We are more than willing to share our experiences with any neighborhood groups interested in recreating this sort of event in their area.

    We are aware of the reputation of this neighborhood. However, we are reaching out to all the communities in this area to ensure that the rich diversity of the area will be reflected. We want everyone to feel welcome.

    If anyone has any questions, comments or feedback, please feel free to contact Connie directly– williamsburgwalks (at) billburg (dot) com.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Summer Streets Coming to Brooklyn This Weekend

|
Enjoying car-free Bedford Ave. during Williamsburg Walks 2008. Photo: acsweet/Flickr After today’s rain clears out, it looks to be a beautiful weekend for two Summer Streets events in Brooklyn. Starting tomorrow, Bedford Avenue from North 4th to North 9th Street will be open to pedestrians only on six Saturdays from noon to sunset. This year’s […]

Williamsburg Walks Doubles Foot Traffic on Bedford Avenue

|
Transportation Alternatives has been measuring the effect of Williamsburg Walks, the car-free street event on Bedford Avenue, and look what they found: Foot traffic on Bedford Avenue was 96% higher than the average Saturday, based on pedestrian counts. The number of children and seniors using the street also increased. And because so much more space […]

Williamsburg Walks: Opening Up Bedford Avenue

|
Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg Brooklyn was de-motorized and opened to the public this Saturday for a new event called Williamsburg Walks. Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson was there and he’s already churned out a nice three-and-a-half minute video to give you a sense of the event. If you want to check out Williamsburg Walks for yourself, you […]

Williamsburg Walks: Volunteer Orientation Tonight

|
Brooklyn’s Bedford Avenue will be going car-free for four Saturdays this summer. If you want to be a part of making the event happen, Billburg.com invites you to a "Williamsburg Walks" volunteer orientation session tonight.  Boricua College186 N. 6th St. (bet. Bedford & Driggs Aves.)Brooklyn RSVPs are encouraged, but not mandatory. RSVP to williamsburgwalks [at] […]

Eyes on the Street: First Weekend of Car-Free Summer Streets

|
A reader sends in these shots of weekend car-free street activity. Above, the crowd takes in a performance from the Fourth Arts Block "Meet the Street" series on East 4th Street between the Bowery and Second Avenue in Manhattan; below is a scene from the first Saturday of Williamsburg Walks, taken at North 6th and […]