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.
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.
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.
Transit Miami announces campaign for temporary street closures during Wynwood’s ‘2nd Saturday’ ArtWalk.
The Second Saturday of each month in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District has rapidly become the ‘must-do’ activity in Miami. For one night a month, NW 2nd Avenue from NW 20th street to NW 29th street becomes a lively festival of art, food trucks, community and celebration - drawing thousands of visitors and growing with each passing month.
But what should be a leisurely, fun and safe stroll through galleries and exhibits of the emerging neighborhood has become a competition of sorts - thousands of pedestrians jockeying for space on narrow, overcrowded sidewalks while a row of constantly idling motorized traffic sits in NW 2nd Avenue. As people spill off the sidewalks and into the street, the conflicts between vehicle and pedestrian are exacerbated. ArtWalk is less about “walking” then it is about delicately squeezing between rows of parked and traffic-clogged vehicles to make your way through the event.
If Wynwood is known for it’s street art, then it’s time we put the art in the street.
Only 8 feet of pavement width is dedicated for thousands people on NW 2nd Ave (sidewalks) while nearly 40 feet is reserved for idling and parked motorized vehicles (street).
Imagine the possibilities if NW 2nd Avenue was closed to motor vehicles and opened for people during this once-a-month event? People, art and vendors can fill the streets. Parents and children can walk and cross safely. The neighborhood sounds will be of music and energy, rather than exhaust-spewing engines.
Transit Miami calls for a partnership between the City of Miami and local Wynwood business owners to arrange for a temporary street closure to motor vehicles to enhance the event’s potential and safety. Yes it will cost some money, but given the event’s popularity and overwhelming crowds, it’s a justifiable expenditure to ensure the long-term prosperity of ArtWalk.
To join the movement to put the walk into ArtWalk, join our Facebook group here or leave your name and e-mail in the comment section below.
A recent open streets event in Hamilton, Ontario
In communities across the country, open streets initiatives are redefining citizens’ relationships with public spaces and encouraging millions of Americans to get active. To foster the growth and development of these exciting initiatives, the Alliance for Biking & Walking and the Street Plans Collaborative have launched two new, innovative resources: The Open Streets Project website and the Open Streets Guide.
Open streets initiatives temporarily close streets to automobiles, allowing residents to walk, bike, skate, dance and utilize the roadways in countless creative and active ways. From Los Angeles to Ottawa, and Missoula to Miami, open streets have become a way for cities to build community, promote active transportation and reconnect neighborhoods divided by traffic.
The website, www.OpenStreetsProject.org, showcases dozens of current initiatives across the continent and allows municipalities and advocacy organizations to share information and resources on their open streets initiatives as they evolve and expand. The Open Streets Guide features best practices from 67 initiatives across the continent, and serves as a tool for cities looking to start or grow an open streets initiative. Click here to download the free electronic copy of the guide. A print version will be available on March 21, 2012 at www.OpenStreetsProject.org.
“Open Streets initiatives are transformational for people and their communities,” said Jeffrey Miller, Alliance President/CEO. “When communities open their streets to people, they inspire citizens to see their roads as public spaces, and provide a welcoming gateway for residents to engage in healthy lifestyles and active transportation.”
“The Open Streets Project aims to support these exciting initiatives by providing advocates and organizers a comprehensive overview of organizational and implementation strategies,” said Mike Lydon, Principal of The Street Plans Collaborative. “We believe the Project will be a catalyst for the continued growth of the open streets in communities across the continent.”
If your city or organization has information to share about an open streets initiative in your community, please contact Mike Samuelson, Alliance Open Streets Coordinator, at (202) 449-9692 x7 or mike@PeoplePoweredMovement.org.
Kudos to the Germans, they shut down 37-miles of the Autobahn between Duisburg and Dortmund. The result: 3 million people turned out amid fine weather, one million of them with their bicycles. The highway, which crosses North Rhine-Westphalia state, is normally one of Europe’s busiest. Check out more pictures here.
If the Germans can shut down a major highway for six hours, I don’t see why we can’t close a lane of traffic on the Rickenbacker Causeway on weekend mornings for a few hours.
The word on the livable street is that Bike Miami Days or something similar will return in April. While nothing is official just yet, a grassroots group is meeting on a weekly basis to try and bring an ‘Open Streets’ event back. Sources close to Transit Miami have told us that Mayor Regalado has given a nod in support of this widely popular event. If you would like to participate or become a sponsor of this event, please come to the Wallflower Gallery on Tuesdays at 6:00pm. Or contact us here are Transit Miami. More information can also be found on the Bike Miami Days website or on www.facebook.com/BikeMiami.
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