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Active Streets Program Would Provide Space For Exercise, Social Distancing In Milwaukee

City of Oakland
A "Slow Street" in Oakland, Cali. Milwaukee is one step closer to creating a similar program, which would close certain streets to traffic, repurposing them for walking, biking or running.

With social distancing recommended to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Milwaukee is one step closer to closing certain streets to through traffic, repurposing them for walking, biking or running. The Public Works committee voted Wednesday to advance a resolution to the full Common Council. It would create an Active Streets program similar to those in other cities.

Mike Amsden, who's with the Department of Public Works, says the goal is to provide more room for people to exercise while practicing social distancing.

“Our intention here is really to ensure that people have spaces to get that ever-so-important outside time for fresh air and for their mental and physical well-being,” Amsden says.

Credit Milwaukee Active Streets
The locations of what would be included in the first phase of the Active Streets program in Milwaukee.

He says the program would start off as a pilot, and if it’s successful, it could grow. Amsden says the city has partnered with Milwaukee County, and has mapped out about 10 miles of streets and parkways for the program.

“We kind of clustered about four different groupings — one on the northwest side on Custer Avenue, two on the near north side on Fratney and Wright streets, three on the west side along primarily Galena Street and connecting several parks, and then four on the near southwest side along Washington Street,” Amsden says.

Milwaukee County areas with closed streets include Grant, Jackson and Humboldt Parks and the Little Menomonee Parkway. Amsden says while the designated streets for the program would be closed to most traffic, people who live in the areas would still be able to drive to their homes and delivery drivers would have access.

People who use the streets for walking, biking or running would be required to maintain social distancing and would not be able to congregate or play games. If the full Common Council approves, Amsden says the city hopes to roll out the program in the coming weeks.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.
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