A Car-Free Vision for Downtown Brooklyn—Updated for the Covid-Era

In December 2019, the Downtown Brooklyn Public Realm Vision set ambitious goals for removing cars from one of New York's central business districts. Then came the pandemic and new tests for those ambitions.

October 25, 2021, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Stakeholders in Downtown Brooklyn are building on a 2019 master plan that ranks as one of the most ambitious visions for car-free urbanism in the country.

The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership unveiled the Downtown Brooklyn Public Realm Vision in 2019,  inspired in part by recent street redesigns in the city, like the pedestrianization of Times Square and the 14th Street Busway (Benjamin Schneider broke the news of the Public Realm Vision in December 2019).

A new article by John Schneider updates the progress toward achieving the master plan's ambitious vision—which includes a neighborhood network of Dutch-style shared streets, busways, protected bike lanes, and improvements to green spaces.

"It was a pedestrian-centric rebuke of the Robert Moses-era planning that dominates much of the borough, where cars flood wide streets en route to the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges," according to Surico.

With the pandemic generating unanticipated support for car-free reforms, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership is hoping to build on that momentum by releasing the Downtown Brooklyn Public Realm Action Plan, a Covid-era update to the original master plan released earlier this month.

"The plan doubles down on the 2019 vision’s calls for pedestrianization, while picking up institutional support and a handful of tangible achievements since then. Not to mention a new streetscape paradigm: This is a city where pandemic-era curbside dining and 'Open Streets' are now permanent fixtures," writes Surico.

As detailed in the source article, linked below, the Downtown Brooklyn is far from alone in its efforts to pedestrianize New York City.

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This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

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This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.