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After this past Saturday’s ArtWalk in Wynwood, the movement for a temporary street closure became more relevant than ever.

Over on the campaign’s Facebook page, supporters have been sending in pictures and video from Saturday’s event, highlighting the obvious and sometimes scary conflict between people and vehicles on NW 2nd Avenue in the Wynwood Arts District.

During one particularly chaotic moment, a parade of glowing stilt-walkers made their way down NW 2nd Avenue, drawing the attention of onlookers and the ire of police. Predictably, the illuminated troupe drew a curious crowd which promptly filled the street. Idling cars were surrounded by a phalanx of smartphone photographers as the motorists tried to nudge their way though the crowd.

Patience wearing thin and tensions running hotter.

All the while, I was standing beside Officer Simmons from the Miami Police Department, discussing the need for temporary street closures, to which she was in complete agreement. Officer Simmons continued to take detailed notes to present to her commander about the situation on NW 2nd Avenue and suggest a temporary street closure to vehicles.

One major concern for the Miami Police officers I spoke with was the very real problem of delayed response times for an emergency in the most congested areas. Citing the road was virtually ‘impassable’, this is a significant public safety hazard that trumps any other benefit of the campaign. Street art and sustainable transportation are just fringe benefits when we are discussing the well-being and safety of the general public.

Don’t think for a moment the safety concerns are overblown. At ArtWalk in Los Angeles almost exactly a year ago, a toddler was struck and killed by motorist that jumped the curb while attempting to park next to a crowded sidewalk. If the possibility of that scenario re-playing exists anywhere, it’s Miami, where motorists seem to incessantly launch their vehicles off the pavement daily. The LA incident sparked a successful ‘open streets’ petition, but let’s not wait for tragedy to play out in Miami.

A motorist nudges though the crowd. Lookout! Too much space for cars, not enough for people.

There is overwhelming support from most local business owners for the campaign, though not all are on board. Some have a mentality that ‘it won’t benefit me’. It’s time to put the petty selfishness aside and support open streets to ensure public safety and foster the successful evolution and success of Wynwood’s ArtWalk.

We are still targeting September - next ArtWalk - for an open street event along a small section of NW 2nd Avenue. We’ll continue to keep you posted via Facebook on any developments or ‘calls to action’.

If you have pictures from ArtWalk, upload them to our Facebook page or send to Craig@TransitMiami.com.

Join the movement at our Facebook Page, follow @WalkWynwood on Twitter and use the hashtag #WalkWynwood to continue the conversation!

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