First Friday Art Walk First of many Open Streets Events to Come (Media Advisory)

First Friday Art Walk is Car Free – The first of many “Open Streets” events in the coming months

The Portland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine would like to remind residents and visitors that this week’s First Friday Art Walk on December 6th will be car-free. Congress Street will be closed to vehicular traffic between Brown Street and State Street from 6-8 pm and no parking will be permitted in that area from 4pm – 8pm. If you’re driving to this Friday’s event, please remember to park in nearby garages or on side streets. Or consider walking or biking to the event. This is the first Art Walk in Portland that will include a closure of Congress Street to cars, creating a safe and more inviting environment for people to walk, shop and socialize.

The car-free First Friday event is one of a number of “Open Streets” events that will take place in Portland over the next twelve months. With this step, Portland joins the ranks of cities around the world that are embracing these types of events. Open Streets events seek to re-establish the tradition of using streets as public spaces that can do more than just accommodate vehicular traffic.

Friday’s event is the culmination of years of effort by multiple groups that have been advocating for the Art Walk events in Portland to be car-free. Jennifer Claster, Chair of the Portland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, said “By removing automobile congestion from Congress Street, this event puts the “walk” back into Art Walk. We are delighted that the City of Portland and the Portland Downtown District have taken this step in the right direction.”

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s executive director, Nancy Grant, sounded a positive note, saying “We are delighted to see that this month’s First Friday Art Walk will be safer and more inviting for pedestrians by keeping cars off Congress Street. We look forward to future Art Walk events that will accommodate bicyclists as well.”

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The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is the statewide voice of cyclists. Since 1992, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine has led the effort to make Maine better for bicycling by protecting the rights and safety of cyclists through education, advocacy, legislation and encouragement. We support biking for health, transportation, recreation and fun. For more information: bikemaine.org.

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