Should Brady Street Be Pedestrian-Only?
Business improvement district asks for further study after fatal hit-and-run.
What would Brady Street look like without cars? It’s a question city officials will explore following a fatal hit-and-run earlier this month.
“On Wednesday evening the Brady [Business Improvement District] Board of Directors voted to move forward with a study to look at options for pedestrianizing Brady Street, with support from Mayor Johnson, the City of Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works, and Representative Jonathan Brostoff,” said BID director Rachel Taylor in a statement issued Thursday afternoon.
The commercial corridor, one of the city’s most vibrant, is a key transportation corridor on the Lower East Side. Owing to the bending street grid, narrow parallel streets and a handful of one-way streets, Brady Street plays an outsized role in moving people across the neighborhood.
It’s also one of the city’s busiest nightlife areas. Most days and nights, even in the winter, crowds can be spotted on the tiny pavement areas outside a number of the bars. The street has recently been beset by three shootings, including one where four people were shot. In response to large crowds in the Water Street bar district in Downtown, city officials have begun closing a handful of blocks to motor vehicle traffic during the peak weekend, evening bar hours.
Pedestrianization plans for Brady Street will need to take into account the Milwaukee County Transit System GreenLine route that runs from the street’s western edge near N. Van Buren St. east to N. Cambridge Ave. Some existing pedestrian malls, such as State Street in Madison, are closed to private motor vehicles, but allow buses, taxis, government vehicles and delivery trucks. The Water Street temporary closures currently require the GreenLine and two other routes to detour, but that is more easily accomplished given the more consistent street grid Downtown.
This isn’t the first time a high-profile incident triggered changes to the street. Mary Glorioso died after being hit by a car while crossing the street in 2004. As a result a number of curb bump-outs, sidewalk extensions intended to increase pedestrian visibility and decrease crossing distances, were installed.
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