Earlier this week, we shared the news that Milwaukee area bars and restaurants were eligible to apply for the Active Streets for Business program, a pilot initiative that allows the expansion of outdoor dining areas through the use of parking lanes, traffic travel lanes and sidewalks.
Thanks the program – as well as planning on the part of the East Side BID – a variety of East Side venues are already offering patio dining, sidewalk cafes, and parklets, as well as indoor options, with more on the way.
Active Steets is, however, bringing more than expanded dining in city streets. It is also the impetus for slowing traffic in areas like the East Side, which has reduced the speed limits on both North Avenue and Farwell from 30 mph to 25 mph, effective Thursday, June 25, to comply with the safety requirements of the program.
On the East Side, where 92 concrete planters have been repurposed as barriers for street-side dining areas, the East Side BID worked with Alderman Kovac and DPW to bring the speed limits into compliance with the initiative.
The reduced speed limits are set to expire with the Active Streets for Businesses plan on November 15; but the BID, as well as several businesses and residents, hope the lower speed limits will become permanent.
"We’re thrilled to have expanded outdoor dining and lower speed limits coming so immediately," noted Liz Brodek, Executive Director of the East Side BID. "This is an extremely walkable area, and lowering the speed limits will make it even more pedestrian-friendly. Our businesses are working closely together to take advantage of the Active Streets program quickly as well. It’s been really gratifying to see so much support for this and everyone working together,".
Tim Gokhman, Director of New Land Enterprises, owner of Crossroads Collective, and East Side BID Board Treasurer, agrees.
"This is the epitome of what a BID should be doing," he says. "This is the continuation of the visible creation of a district. Were it not for a BID and director that is able to aggregate options and support of business owners, or even know that this is possible and needed, this project would not be moving forward as it is.
"People go to districts, there is something for everyone to do - you’ll be happy and I’ll be happy. As much as having the actual businesses are important, it’s also important to have the infrastructure around it to see and remember it. To me, having multiple parklets lining North Ave, that’s the visual cue that we’re looking for."
Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.
Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.