Could Kingston Avenue Become Car Free?

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 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.

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  1. It’s just a matter of time. Many European cities had to redesign their centers as more people drive. Since US cities have larger streets, we have more time to adapt, but eventually all city centers will be car-free. I don’t see businesses in Ben Yehuda or the Shuk in Yerushalayim having trouble keeping their doors open.

  2. It would be great for tishrei, kinus hashluchim/shluchos, cteen…. all these BIG events that people come from all over and they can have the streets for easy access shopping and not have to worry about traffic

  3. Would this increase the already nightmarish parking crisis? (Unless THE CITY would provide parking lots/structures)

    1. Communism! Parking should all be market rate. If it is so valuable let the free market provide it.

      no, this would reduce the parking issue because like in other areas where this happens you can dead end one street that runs to Kingston. on that dead end make it all head in parking (like in a parking lot ) which would triple the number of spots.

  4. Historically when life was extremely local and no one left their little shtetul this concept would be nice. But now Hashem advanced technology to allow the world to be more connected thru driving cars from place to place. Unfortunately the segment of people that don’t believe in Hashem and think that they control the worlds future, have gone on a mission to push back the advances of the world.
    Perhaps they feel that moshiach is almost here and their end is near. So they feel like they can stop it.

    1. In fact, technology has grown even further since the car transformation of the 50s and 60s. New understandings of urban design and planning are lightyears beyond the outdated ‘car centric’ view of society.

      Calling a world based around people driving personal cars everywhere is like saying we can’t use the Internet to learn Torah and stay connected because that’s a step backwards from the technological leap of the telegraph…

    2. Car centric planing makes a lot of sense in Wyoming.

      The evidence is clear that using car centric planning in mega cities causes a decline in living standards.

      The government needs allow the free market to work… on streets that have more walking that driving a road diet should be strongly considered. On none arterial roads that have high foot traffic making one area a pedestrian plaza can reduce non local thru car commuting and make that place a destination rather than a thruway to some where else.

      obviously utica or eastern parkway would NOT be a good place for this because those are arterials. this isnt a City wide thing that should happen… only in places that meet a lot of conditions.

  5. Kingston can be redesigned so that it is a pedestrian plaza with bike access without curbs and that emergency vehicles could enter but regular cars cant drive on the plaza. (no fountain in the middle )

    As for heavy store deliveries they can be allowed to drive in the plaza, by permit at night between 11PM and 5 AM. Fedex ups amazon can walk just like everyone else.

    City wide store deliveries should only be allowed at night so that double parking wont interfere with traffic.

    all these solutions are common in other countries.

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