Dave Reid

Car-free Days in Milwaukee

By - Oct 6th, 2008 08:55 am

Recently Nick Whitaker, from Streetfilms, visited Milwaukee and captured two lively examples of car-free events here in Milwaukee. These two events, both on Milwaukee’s East Side, were typical of a summer day in Milwaukee and showed off how we Milwaukeean’s enjoy our city.

First, the Brady Street Festival celebrated some of Milwaukee’s favorite things, beer and cheese. But beyond celebrating our local food favorites, this festival also highlighted one of our great neighborhoods and our vibrant streets. Second, the Downer Avenue Race drew bicycle racers from around the country and a large crowd to cheer them on. Just like the Brady Street Festival, it also featured one of Milwaukee’s vibrant streets and brought residents out to experience the East Side.

(If the video doesn’t display it can also be seen here)

Both of these events show off some of the best that Milwaukee has to offer and it is good that these festivals encourage people to get out and enjoy their city, walk their neighborhoods, and interact with the community. Despite our love of street festivals, Milwaukee doesn’t participate in a car-free event, Ciclovía, that has spread to cities as different as New York and El Paso.

Ciclovía originated in Bogota, Columbia during the 1970’s as a way to put more eyes on the street, help people to enjoy their city again, and encourage residents to exercise by bicycling. A Ciclovía would close down many stretches of road for a day and give them over to bicyclists and pedestrians to ride or walk as far as they choose. Unfortunately the concept of closing streets to cars, even for a day, is often a scary proposition to traffic engineers so ideas like these are slow to arrive in Milwaukee. As the movement to remake our cities for people instead of cars grows I’m hopeful that one day we’ll have a Ciclovía right here in Milwaukee. What’s your take?


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