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A walk on the mild side this summer in Williamsburg

The Brooklyn Paper
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Williamsburg might be short on parkland, but on summer Saturdays, the neighborhood is poised to again boast seven additional blocks of open space.

Bedford Avenue is expected to go car-free every Saturday in June and July for the second annual “Williamsburg Walks,” which turns the thoroughfare into a pedestrian-only plaza between Metropolitan Avenue and North Ninth Street.

Cars will still be able to cross Bedford Avenue on all the side streets, but each block of Bedford itself will be free from traffic and parked cars between noon and sunset.

And unlike the summertime street fairs, “Williamsburg Walks” won’t clog the pedestrian-only zone with vendors, said organizer Michael Freedman-Schnapp, whose group Neighbors Allied for Good Growth is planning the Saturday strolls with the L Magazine.

“This is not going be a tube-sock-and-gyro kind of street fair. This is going to be civic space that the community can enjoy,” said Freedman-Schnapp, who urged Williamsburgers to take advantage of the open space by hosting barbecues on their strip of the borough’s longest road.

Organizers said they still need to get their permits from the city, and work out how to reroute the B61 bus around Bedford Avenue.

After the success of last year’s “Williamsburg Walks,” many merchants told The Brooklyn Paper that they were looking forward to the closure of Bedford Avenue — not dreading its possible impact on deliveries.

“It was very good last year — it brought more customers,” said Aya Kiriyama, owner of the clothing boutique Red Pearl, which is between North Fifth and Sixth streets. “I hope it will do the same thing this year.”

According to Kate Hollowell — an employee at Amarcord Vintage Fashion between North Fourth and Fifth streets — shutting down Bedford Avenue can actually draw shoppers to the businesses that line the drag.

“It makes it feel like more of a community,” she said. “[When there is no traffic] people are more likely to go into stores and explore stores that they wouldn’t necessarily visit otherwise.”

Organizers will discuss “Williamsburg Walks” at the Swingin’ 60s Senior Center [211 Ainslie St. at Manhattan Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 384-2248] on April 27 at 7 pm.

Updated 5:12 pm, July 9, 2018: Story was updated to reflect that this thing ain't a done deal yet. Organizers still need permits!
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Reasonable discourse

Lee from Williamsburg says:
I live right on Bedford. Hate hate hate hate hate this idea. This idea is so much about bringing $$ to the businesses that line the street, and very little about the people (like me) who live on the street. I'm really tired of people treating Bedford Avenue like a free-for-all.

At the very least, they could take turns and close off other streets once in a while.
April 8, 2009, 12:58 pm
Joe from Greenpoint says:
I think any opportunity like this can only have a positive impact on the neighborhood. Williamsburg/Greenpoint has been up and coming for years and events like this year after year will soon draw crowds from the other side of the River. A to the participants and boohoo to Lee who will always be unsatisfied in the location he lives in. For Lee if it isn't loud noise at night from barhoppers it will always be something else. Come get some
May 16, 2012, 1:42 pm

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