An AI program that reimagines streets around the USA as “people friendly” published a render of Kingston Avenue as a pedestrian plaza, setting off passionate debates among residents.
By Anash.org reporter
Can you imagine Kingston, but without the cars?
An AI-generated program that reimagines streets around the USA as “people friendly” car-free streets published a render of Kingston Avenue as a pedestrian plaza, setting off passionate debates among residents.
Kingston Avenue serves as the main thoroughfare for the Crown Heights neighborhood, with shops, restaurants, shuls, Judaica stores and more lining the two sides of the street, starting at Empire Blvd. and continuing past Eastern Parkway.
While known for its bustling scene and seemingly endless shopping possibilities, Kingston Avenue also has another reputation: a traffic nightmare. Clogged with cars on a regular day, on Fridays and busier times of the year, it can take upwards of half an hour to traverse the mere half a mile. So when @betterstreetsai posted an image of what Kingston Avenue would look like if it was totally closed for vehicles, residents took an immediate interest. And while the vast majority of the renders created by the program are purely theoretical, with no immediate or long-term plans to make them a reality, local activists began offering their opinions of the viability of such a transformation.
“What happens when there are medical emergencies or crimes in progress? How are emergency personnel going to arrive in time? How are the trucks that supply the stores going to get the products to the stores?” Shomrim coordinator Rabbi Mendy Hershkop questioned the creators of the program.
“These are all questions that have been solved by thousands of cities with car-free streets worldwide (including NYC). in short, emergency and delivery vehicles still have access to the street, and they can do their jobs better without hundreds of SUVs blocking the way,” was the response they offered.
One local activist who expressed his full support for the program was Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone, founder of Tech Tribe, who quote-tweeted the render with an empathetic “YES”. He also wrote that “If done right…alleys and side streets could be used for [delivering] big orders.
On the other end of the debate was Rabbi Yaacov Behrman, Public Safety Chair of Community Board 9. “Very nice but meaningless,” he wrote. “The application doesn’t show the shuttered stores, closed from lack of access and deliveries, or the major traffic nearby of cars, school buses, emergency vehicles, and Mitzvah tanks.”
“Now if you want to discuss Carroll or “Behrman Way” I’m game for that,” he concluded.
What is your opinion on the matter? Should Kingston go pedestrian only? Let us know in the comments.