Back in July, Transit Miami began building a coalition of individuals and local businesses to explore the possibility of transforming Wynwood’s monthly second Saturday ArtWalk into an open street event free of motorized vehicles in the core of the action on NW 2nd Avenue. (Put the Walk into Wynwood’s ArtWalk) Behind the scenes, we have been meeting with the Wynwood Arts District Association to bring our ideas forward and seek their endorsement. Though there are varying levels of support from local business owners (and coverage in the Miami New Times, Wynwood Radio my piece in the Biscayne Times and more here and here.) the WADA board recently voted ‘no’ on the idea. Since that vote, we’ve continued to press for better pedestrian conditions during the event, with some of our recommendations referenced in the response letter from the WADA below.
Although we certainly appreciate your efforts and interest in the well-being and improvement of this neighborhood, the Board of Directors of the Wynwood Arts District Association has made the decision that at this point there is no interest in a street closure along NW 2nd Ave. I can assure you that the Association is well aware of the need to improve the current pedestrian and cyclist conditions on the avenue, particularly during Second Saturdays. Thus the appearance of Code Enforcement on the last few Art Walks, and the shared bike lane signage along NW 2nd Ave. We are also working closely with the NET Office to get Noise Waiver fees waived so that the musicians and/or DJs can feel free to play on the streets.
The Association very much supports street performances and other impromptu Art happenings on the sidewalks and public spaces along NW 2nd Ave. What the Association does not support are illegal vendors setting up and making business on the sidewalks and streets of Wynwood, disrupting the flow on the right of way and increasing waste.
The Association is also currently working with the City of Miami and Miami Biennale for other solutions to improve the current pedestrian conditions in Wynwood, such as crosswalks and more (and better) cyclist infrastructure.
We are also working on establishing more control on vehicular traffic along the thoroughfares in Wynwood, but the local developers and various business-owners understand that, by closing a portion of NW 2nd, many visitors will be lost on how to access the neighborhood and it will be more of a problem than an actual benefit. They believe that cars and people can cohabit peacefully, very much like they do in Ocean Dr, 5th Ave or Broadway in NYC (just to name a few examples) and do not believe that the benefits outweigh the costs. The Association also understands that some of these have struggled with not enough pedestrian space for years and have recently adopted different programs and initiatives that enhance the pedestrian experience, such as Broadway which, as you mentioned, has adopted an innovative program that turned 3 vehicle lanes into a pedestrian plaza and cycle track. These are all great initiatives, and we look at these as models to follow.
Your suggestion of removing the 2 lanes of on-street parking on NW 2nd Ave during Second Saturdays to create an extended sidewalk where people can move about safely has been raised at our meetings and we have considered implementing it on the future. I would like to assure you that the pedestrian experience in Wynwood is one of our many priorities and one that we are diligently addressing at the moment through several initiatives and projects that we have on the works. Lastly, I would like to kindly request to you and the Transit Miami followers to please address these conditions (as visitors of Wynwood) to our Mayor, local Commissioners, and other Administrators.
Jose Nava Lujambio
WADA [Wynwood Arts District Association]
You can see some of our recommendations included removing the on-street parking along NW 2nd Avenue during the event, and allow pedestrians to use the reclaimed space. While the WADA cites ‘no interest’ in an open streets evening, that seems to conflict with the overwhelming support we’ve received from the people that actually attend and support this event.
We’ll see what goes down this Saturday.
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