This year’s Williamsburg Walks pedestrian plaza could have been called “Williamsburg Eats.”
That’s because the controversial car-free street festival on June 11 and 18 will allow Bedford Avenue restaurants to set up sidewalk cafes in front of their storefronts — and relegate food trucks to side streets away from the action.
It’s an answer to prior years’ complaints from area businesses that outside vendors — and a complete lack of car traffic between N. Fourth and N. 12th streets — hurt business.
But organizers say that this year will be different.
“By taking cars out of the equation, we get a glimpse of Bedford Avenue as a world-class pedestrian plaza and a chance to leisurely enjoy this busy commercial strip,” said Neighbors Allied for Good Growth’s Ryan Kuonen, who organized the event.
It hasn’t been an easy ride for Williamsburg Walks.
Some businessowners claimed that they lost revenue when traffic was suspended for six weekends in July and August in 2009. The next year, organizers trimmed the festival to two weekends, which placated some business owners.
For now, businesses are “waiting to see how it goes” according to Northside Merchants Association’s Caitlin Dourmashkin.
There will be plenty of foot traffic on both Saturdays.
On June 11, shoppers will inundate McCarren Park for the Renegade Craft Fair while music fans will flood East River State Park for the Open Space Alliance’s first concert of the summer later that day.
And one week later, fans will stream through music venues up and down Bedford Avenue for the Northside Festival, perhaps the neighborhood’s most populous music event.
Williamsburg Walks (Bedford Avenue between N. Fourth and N. 12th streets in Williamsburg), June 11 and 18, noon–8 pm. For info, visit www.williamsburgwalks.org.