A popular summertime tradition is returning to Bay Ridge.
Local elected officials announced this morning that the Third Avenue Summer Strolls program, in which portions of the avenue are closed to traffic and filled with music, art, dining, shopping and games will return to the southwest Brooklyn neighborhood after being cancelled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bay Ridge’s Fifth Avenue will also participate in the city’s Open Streets program this summer.
Council Member Justin Brannan announced the plans at a press event this morning alongside Senator Andrew Gounardes, the 5th Avenue and 86th Street BIDs, the Merchants of 3rd Avenue Merchants group and Brooklyn Community Board 10.
“After an impossibly tough and terribly painful year, the summer is here and Bay Ridge is back!” Brannan wrote in a Facebook post. “Everyone sacrificed so much, and now it’s time to come together again. Bay Ridge has always been a small town in a big city and now we can finally get back into the streets with friends and neighbors to have some fun and support our local small businesses!”
The Third Avenue Strolls will take place on different portions of the street across four summer Fridays: the southern portion of the avenue from 80th to 90th streets will be shut down on July 9th and August 6th, while the northern portion from 68th to 80th streets will be closed off on July 16 and August 13.
The Fifth Avenue Open Streets, meanwhile, will operate the last Friday of the month from June to October, including June 25th, July 30th, August 27th, September 24th and October 29.
Specific blocks have not yet been announced for the Fifth Avenue program, nor have hours for either avenue.
The Third Avenue Summer Stroll event, which is organized as part of the city transportation department’s Weekend Walks program, began in 2012 and had become hugely popular amongst local residents and business owners.
Weekend Walks served as a precursor to the city’s Open Streets program, which was launched last year to offer COVID-safe public spaces and allow struggling local restaurants to serve diners. Mayor Bill de Blasio has since made the program permanent and announced an additional program, Open Boulevards, which will feature blocks-long stretches closed off to vehicles and filled with restaurants, live performances and other activities.
The street closures have been broadly popular in Brooklyn and throughout the city, though the program has also been criticized for its reliance on volunteer organizations to manage the newly-created open spaces, a practice that has made it more difficult to offer Open Streets in lower-income neighborhoods.
In an effort to combat that inequity, de Blasio pledged to allocate more than $12 million to supporting Open Streets and the related Open Restaurants initiatives, and signed City Council legislation requiring the Department of Transportation to create and operate at least 20 Open Streets in “underserved” areas.