Milwaukee, WI –
Throughout the course of this pandemic, communities throughout the Great Lakes region have had to get creative. The question became, “How do we maintain community when our businesses and schools are closed?” Most of our communities are designed around cars, and one of the best ways to avoid COVID-19 is to spend more time outdoors (appropriately distanced, of course) enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. Milwaukee historically hasn’t been very bike or pedestrian friendly, so how could the city make a difference?
Simple – they just closed a few streets to through traffic and made them bike and pedestrian friendly. This program, termed Active Streets, was so successful last year that the city is keeping it going this summer. If things go well, streets like this could become a permanent part of the landscape of Milwaukee. It seems counter-intuitive, to close streets to improve traffic flow, but that is exactly what has happened.
“Active Streets were part of our community’s response to the pandemic, but it quickly became clear that the benefits of Active Streets could be enjoyed well into the future,” Mayor Tom Barrett said during the launch Friday. “The response we’ve heard gave us a clear direction; Active Streets are a welcome addition to many neighborhoods.”
Four locations have been chosen, along with organizations who will be in charge of community outreach and monitoring each of the sites:
1. Northwest Side CDC: N. 25th St. from W. Roosevelt Dr. to W. Capitol Dr.
2. Metcalfe Park Community Bridges: N. 37th St. & N. 38th St. from W. North Ave. to W. Meinecke Ave., & W. Meinecke Ave. from N. 37th St. to N. 38th St.
3. United Methodist Children’s Services: W. Galena St. from N. 40th St. to N. 27th St. & W. Cherry St. from N. 24th Pl. to N. 20th St.
4. Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers: W. Washington St. from S. 20th St. to S. 1st St.
With over 70% of the citizens of Milwaukee supporting Active Streets, it seems that it will not be long until the proposed Phase 2 of this project can begin. That would include semi-permanent infrastructure like rubber speed bumps and other easily installed devices to encourage drivers to slow down on these residential streets. Some day, permanent bike lanes and concrete curbs dividing cars from pedestrians and bikers could be built to make this infrastructure permanent.
This is your city government thinking creatively to solve a public health problem that then creates a better community for all citizens to live and work in – well, isn’t that nice?