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.

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Bedford Avenue to Go Car-Free Four Saturdays This Summer

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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 […]

Evaluating Summer Streets

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Here's a modest proposal for evaluating the success of a Summer Streets event: Measure the amount of time kids are able to run and play without their parents having to worry about them being hit by a car, the number of friends you bump into and new people you meet, the pounds of automobile exhaust and carbon that aren't being spewed into the hot summer air, the amount of horn-honking, engine-revving and boom stereos you're not hearing, and whether your local merchants are happy about the event and making more money than they usually do on a slow summer weekend.

Summer Streets Coming to Brooklyn This Weekend

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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

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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 […]

It’s Past Time to Make Summer Streets Even Greater

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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 […]

Keep L Train Passengers Moving With Great BRT

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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 […]