Williamsburg Walks in the Rain

My friend Jonathan and I loaded up our 70 pounds-worth of pre-schoolers into the "Batmobike" on Sunday and headed over to Williamsburg Walks. My brother Abe joined us as well. Ominous looking clouds were rolling in from the west as we left Park Slope around noon. By the time we hit Fort Greene the rain was coming down in sheets. Much to the delight of the boys, we deployed the Batmobike’s rain canopy and waited out the storm under a tree near the corner of Willoughby and Washington.

The storm eased to a drizzle and we got moving again. The Batmobike turned a lot of heads as we rode along the mini van-dominated Orthodox Jewish stretch of Bedford Avenue. (Note to Henry Workcycles: Market opportunity!?) We arrived and parked at N. 7th St. where I predicted it would be a matter of hours before a photo of the bakfiets would be uploaded to Flickr. The number of bikes parked along Bedford Ave. was amazing to me. It almost looked like a scene out of Copenhagen, Amsterdam or Munich. There is no question that Williamsburg could use more street space dedicated to bike parking.

Connie Colvin of Williamsburg Walks gave the boys a complimentary Frisbee and I chatted with Shin-pei Tsay of Transportation Alternatives for a few minutes. The rain was off and on so we found a place to have lunch. By the time we were done the weather had cleared up and people were really starting to come out and make use of the open street.

car_free_beford

Granted, I’m predisposed to enjoying a car-free street but I really liked Williamsburg Walks. I just find it incredibly nice to be able to step outside onto a commercial street in a crowded city and not have to hear the constant sounds of engine revving, brake squealing and horn honking. It’s nice to have some elbow room and to be able to stand in one place and talk to friends without shouting over the sound of traffic or clogging up the sidewalk. And it’s absolutely great not to have to worry that your kid could take one step in the wrong direction and find himself in the path of a moving SUV.

guys.jpg

I think Williamsburg Walks would be even better if more Bedford Ave. merchants were encouraged to put out tables and chairs and open up their restaurants and shops to the street a bit. But, again, it was pretty rainy on Sunday and I imagine it might not be worth it for a business owner to buy and store outdoor furniture for an event that still only takes place a few times a year.

We didn’t see traffic jams on side streets or any of the problems that are often predicted around car-free streets. If anything, the neighborhood streets crossing the car-free stretch of Bedford were noticeably mellow. In my neighborhood, the Park Slope Civic Council and the merchants associations are working on a Park Slope Promenade proposal for 5th and 7th Avenues for the fall. I’ll be looking forward to that.

Third photo down is by acsweet on Flickr. The rest of the photos were taken by Aaron Naparstek.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Keep L Train Passengers Moving With Great BRT

|
The news that Sandy-related repairs will require closing one or both directions of the L train under the East River (the “Canarsie Tube”) for one to three years has understandably caused panic among the estimated 230,000 daily passengers who rely on it. Businesses in Williamsburg that count on customers from Manhattan are also concerned about a […]

DOT Proposes Flushing Ave Bikeway in Prelude to Major Greenway Push

|
Image: NYCDOT [PDF] Here’s a look at the Flushing Avenue bike path concept that NYCDOT presented to the Brooklyn Community Board 2 transportation committee last night. This project would add another preliminary link to the path of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, following in the footsteps of the Kent Avenue bike lane. After a round of […]

Breaking News: 94th Precinct Clipping Bikes on Bedford Ave

|
Police officers from Brooklyn’s 94th precinct are, at this moment, clipping bike locks and seizing bicycles parked along Bedford Ave. according to Community Board 1 Transportation Chair Teresa Toro. The precinct gave Community Board members no advanced notice of the police action. Phone calls to the precinct have gone unanswered. Toro, who also works for […]

Two Cyclists Killed in Brooklyn This Morning

|
From WABC: Two men, both bicyclists, were killed in separate accidents in Brooklyn Thursday morning. In the first, police say a bicyclist was struck and killed by an oil truck at the intersection of Union Avenue and Ten Eyck Street in the East Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. The bicyclist, a 26-year-old Massachusetts resident, was hit […]