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.

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