Eyes on the Street: NYC’s Car-Free Streets Season Gets Started

The scene on Bedford Avenue at North 7th Street this weekend during the Williamsburg Walks car-free event. Photo: Stephen Miller

On Saturday, ten blocks of the Bedford Avenue retail strip were closed to cars and open to people for Williamsburg Walks, one of the first neighborhood car-free events to partner with DOT’s Weekend Walks program. The street was full of people enjoying the sunny weather — at chairs and tables, listening to live music, playing games, lounging on grass, and stopping in at shops and restaurants along the way.

The year’s third and final Williamsburg Walks is scheduled for this Saturday. The calendar for DOT’s Weekend Walks website lists 23 streets in all five boroughs with car-free streets on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays this summer — up from 18 three years ago.

New Yorkers craving something bigger than just their own neighborhood event are looking forward to the sixth annual Summer Streets, which converts Park Avenue and Lafayette Street from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park at 72nd Street into a car-free zone. Summer Streets takes place during three consecutive Saturdays in August. DOT has not yet announced this year’s dates.

  • Anonymous

    It’s sad that Williamsburg Walks was trimmed down from 4 weekends to 3 a couple years back. Given the crowding on Bedford Avenue’s sidewalks these days, the neighborhood desperately needs it every weekend.

  • Bronxite

    I don’t understand why Summer Streets is only 3 weekends a year, and only two streets?

    Summer Streets should expand to many more areas across the city and be designated every Sunday during the summer.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Summer streets on Park Avenue is incredible, and as this post mentioned, one of several pedestrian/bike-only streets activities during the warm months. I love Summer Streets – it was actually at the first one several years back where I found the T.A. tent and signed up to become a member! I’ve been active working for safer streets ever since, inspired by the sight of thousands of walkers and bikers on Park Avenue.

  • Joe R.

    It should be all year round just like they have in some other cities. I like the concept, but honestly can’t stand being out in uncomfortably hot weather (which given the high humidity typical in summers I define as anything much over about 65°F). Why not have Fall Streets, Spring Streets, even Winter Streets? And I really wish these car-free events would run all day until late evening, not 7 AM to 1 PM. A lot of people just aren’t up that early on their off days.

  • Bronxite

    I agree with all points you made. It should be more often and much longer.

  • Andrew

    Probably because traffic is lightest in the summer. Expanding it to the rest of the year would be a tough sell, although I agree with you completely about the weather.


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 […]

It’s Past Time to Make Summer Streets Even Greater

When Summer Streets launched in 2008, it was accompanied by a veritable New York media firestorm. “Will Car-Free ‘Summer Streets’ Work?” asked the Times. “Businesses Brace for Summer Streets,” warned WNYC. Seven years on, New York’s marquee car-free event has become a popular August institution. It’s time for more. Since its first edition, Summer Streets has […]

Summer Streets 2011: Play Ball

This August, Park Avenue will again be closed to motor vehicles for three Saturday mornings as part of the fourth annual Summer Streets event. The details are largely the same as in years past: The route will run for seven miles from 72nd Street south to Foley Square from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. When […]

Bedford Avenue to Go Car-Free Four Saturdays This Summer

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 […]