Adams Morgan inaugurates a car-free pedestrian zone

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Rocío Christianson, 5, smiled as she saw the sparkles and swirls of color painted on her face. Her dad, Josh Christianson, told her there would be fun activities in the Adams Morgan pedestrian area that was set up on Sunday, but she didn’t believe him when she arrived at the event – ​​​​until she sees the makeup stand.

“Look at him,” Rocío told his family as he jumped out of the seat. “I love it; it’s beautiful.”

“Gorgeous,” agreed her father.

Sunday saw the return of the Adams Morgan Pedestrian Zone, a program that closed a portion of 18th Street to vehicular traffic between Columbia and Kalorama Roads NW from noon to 10 p.m. The goal was to expand the use of sidewalks and the street to create more space for pedestrians and cyclists to get to their favorite restaurant or stores in the area, according to the Adams Morgan Partnership Business Improvement District.

Adams Morgan trades traffic for yoga and streetwear on Sunday

Residents had talked about building infrastructure for a designated pedestrian zone after a person driving a white van hit and injured two DC bike police officers and a third person in 2017, executive director Kristen Barden said. of the Adams Morgan Partnership Business Improvement District. .

“Ideally, we’d like to do this for a whole weekend, not just one day,” Barden said.

The District announced it would be closing a portion of 18th Street between Kalorama and Columbia Roads in June 2020, and it turned out to be a success. The street was bustling with people and businesses said they were serving more customers than usual on weekends, Barden said. But neighbors complained about the lack of social distancing and masking, and it didn’t happen again.

Since then, the Adams Morgan Partnership Business Improvement District has attempted to replicate it.

On Sunday, dump trucks and DC police vehicles blocked alleyways and intersections around the area, and city workers helped direct vehicle traffic. The 18th Street section was packed with typical Sunday morning brunches, but they were joined by fitness instructors giving hip-hop and yoga classes in the middle of the street.

“I think people are moving around a lot more freely now now that all of these restrictions are lifted,” said Jonathan Wells, owner of Club Timehri on 18th Street. “It’s really nice to see people feeling comfortable being back on the streets.”

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Kerstin Canby, who has lived in the neighborhood for years, was walking her dog, Penny, when she noticed the lines of police cars around the area. At first she thought an incident had happened that attracted the police, until she saw the signs indicating that the section was a pedestrian zone.

“I wish it was regular,” Canby said, adding that the zone made it so easy to spot stores she hadn’t been paying attention to. She had just finished looking at a vintage shop that usually seemed closed, and she was now planning a visit later in the afternoon.

Katherine Hamilton and Alexis Marston, both 24, had both walked down 18th Street on Saturday night, but were back on Sunday so Marston could get a tattoo. Neither of them knew in advance that the street was a pedestrian zone.

“It’s good to have the street closed,” Hamilton said. “It’s easier to cross.”

The area will once again be a designated pedestrian zone on September 4 and October 23, although organizers hope to add more dates, Barden said. Funding from the Streets for People grants program – which supports concerts, movies and outdoor events in public spaces around the city – is being used to build a system with metal cables that can be pulled across the street to close it to traffic, rather than using DC police vehicles and dump trucks.

Attendance was low at some events on Sunday as some pedestrians huddled under awnings and umbrellas to avoid the rain. But nearby business owners were optimistic about the impact of the pedestrian zone as they saw people heading to restaurants and cafes in the area. The street was busy, said Jonathan Wilson, owner of Demers Real Estate, a commercial real estate company based in the neighborhood.

“Imagine when we have good weather,” Wilson said.

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