By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 08, 2020 at 4:31 PM

On Friday – after numerous other cities around the country limited traffic on some streets to make room for pedestrians and bikes – the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County announced the Active Streets.

The initiative aims to, "provide additional temporary recreation spaces for people to safely engage in physical activities such as walking, biking, or running," during the pandemic.

The County Parks are kicking off this program this weekend by closing  park roads in Humboldt Park, Jackson Park and Little Menomonee Parkway to through traffic beginning this weekend.

The initiative cannot be fully implemented until it is approved by the Common Council.

Not all neighborhoods will get an Active Street; at least not initially.

The city streets in Phase 1 of the plan are West Custer Avenue, from 64th to Sherman Boulevard; Fratney, between Meinecke and Keefe; Wright, from Palmer to Gordon Park; Washington Street, from 20th to Water; Galena, from 14th to 40th; Cherry, from 24th-27th; North 24th, from Cherry to Galena; and North 14th, from Juneau to Galena.

Here is the statement:

Milwaukee Active Streets, initiated and overseen by the City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works and Milwaukee County Parks, will temporarily close or limit motor vehicle traffic on approximately 10 miles of streets throughout the City and County for improved bicycle and pedestrian use, to be phased in over the next couple of weeks.

"While we have asked residents to stay home and eliminate unnecessary travel under the Safer at Home Order, we do encourage people to get outside and engage in physical activity near their homes. Outdoor time and physical activity are essential to maintaining health and well-being during this unprecedented time of physical distancing," said City of Milwaukee Commissioner of Health Jeanette Kowalik.

In many neighborhoods, however, outdoor space is limited, and parks, trails, and sidewalks can easily become crowded, making it difficult for people to maintain the recommended minimum 6-foot physical distancing separation. The City and the County have both seen significant increases in trail usage over the past month as compared to last year, and these numbers are expected to continue growing as the weather warms.

"We have prioritized streets that provide access to trails and parks, align with proposed neighborhood bicycle boulevards in our Bike Plan, and are distributed equitably throughout the City in residential neighborhoods," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

"Through a great partnership with City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works and Milwaukee County Parks, residents throughout the City will benefit from this program."

Games, socializing and congregating are prohibited as they do not allow for proper physical distancing and do not adhere to the guidance in the Safer at Home Order. Active Streets are intended for continuous pedestrian movement, expanding the ways in which users can safely get physical activity near their homes while maintaining at least 6 feet of separation. Covering one’s nose and mouth with mask/cloth is also recommended to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"Right now, parks and trails are more important than ever as they’re vital for our both physical and mental well-being," said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. "Milwaukee Active Streets will make it easier for residents across Milwaukee to access parks and trails safely, while physical distancing, and take full advantage of the benefits that time outdoors can bring."

Drivers are reminded to slow down throughout the City, but especially on streets opened up for walking, biking and running. Local motor vehicle access will be permitted to ensure that residents, emergency vehicles and deliveries will still have access to the street as needed.

Implementing the City of Milwaukee Active Streets segments is pending adoption by the Common Council. The Department of Public Works will present its Active Streets proposal to the Common Council Public Works Committee on Wednesday, May 13.

Meanwhile, the City and County continue to partner with community organizations and neighborhood groups to build awareness of the Active Streets initiative and document successes and lessons learned.

More information and updates on Active Streets can be found at https://milwaukee.gov/activestreets.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in an episode of TV's "Party of Five," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.