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 still can. Saturday’s noon to 7 pm event was the first of four pedestrian-only Saturday’s on Bedford Avenue, through August 9. That also happens to be the first day of the big "Summer Streets" event along Park Avenue in Manhattan (7 am to 1 pm), if you’re looking to make a multi-borough day of it.

Clarence described the event as "quiet, safe, relaxing, and human" and says he’ll be returning without a camera next time so he can actually enjoy it as well (Can you actually detach that thing from your hand, Clarence? I’ll believe it when I see it). Streetfilms’ also notes: "This was not a street fair in any sense of the word." The generic sausage and tube socks vendors were nowhere to be seen. Rather, this was an opening up of the street to the neighborhood. It was an event that allowed merchants, residents and visitors to enjoy other uses for their shared public space than the storage and movement of motor vehicles. And why not?

  • james

    the sausage vendors were out in force at the giglio festival over on havemeyer sunday, which, compared to bedford on saturday, felt rather anemic.

  • mfs

    I was there all day and had a great time

  • Streetsman

    OMG didn’t the surrounding streets get completely overrun with traffic?! How did people get there? Did all the businesses have to close down because there were no customers? What happens if an ambulance needs to get through there? Did anybody die?!

  • Lars

    It was a beautiful day even with the blazing 96 or 97 degree temps. One can only imagine on a more mild day how many people will come out.

    Over on Curbed, there are some negative reax to the film which one would expect, but there were some positive ones, which one wouldn’t expect:

    http://curbed.com/archives/2008/07/21/bedford_ave_goes_car_free_on_a_blazing_hot_day.php

  • Shemp

    I’m not a follower of Curbed and am struck by how piggish the few pieces and comments I’ve read over there are. Is it some kind of Old Left “NYC was better in the 70’s” crew? Can someone explain to me how a pedestrian street gets equated with suburbia?

  • It’s good to see these kinds of events being promoting in the U.S. Although my hometown of Milwaukee, WI doesn’t have any days just like this what we have are numerous street festivals. It is just a great way to get people out of their cars and out into the world.

  • I’m glad that the post is titled “Opening”. My pet peeve is when people refer to this type of event as “closing” a street (as is done in the film). With that many people out using the street and having fun, the street is clearly not “closed.” It’s just not available for motorized vehicles.

  • Lindsi

    Matt, you’re right, ‘opening’ has a nicer ring to it, but calling it a ‘closure’ unfortunately fits as well. A lot of effort went into ‘closing’ the street to auto traffic.

    Streetsman- I sincerely hope you aren’t really as concerned as you sound… maybe you were being sardonic? Just in case you weren’t:

    The surrounding streets did just fine, with no back ups of traffic and no accidents. People got there by foot, bus, subway, bike, and yes, even car. The businesses actually had a good chance of increasing their profits that day due to the increased amount of time people spent on the street as well as the overall increase in the number of people. Unfortunately, I don’t have any raw numbers for you…yet. And, I’m assuming, a hypothetical ambulance would be allowed through the street.

    Check it out next Saturday, August 2nd!

  • WillyB

    I had a great time at the last “walk” July 11th. The WGA + creative thriftshop block was the best. You have to check at the website! please guys do this every year. great day in the hood. loved destroying the piano.

    http://www.creativethriftshop.com/Exhibition/2009htm/PR_WGA-7in6.htm