Brady Street Festival pedestrian safety a focus after hit-and-runs

Hundreds of people celebrated Brady Street Festival on Saturday, July 29 – enjoying music, food or just the experience.

As the debate over whether to keep the street as is or make it only open to pedestrians continues, many said they didn't have to worry about looking both ways with the road closed. 

"The best day of the year is the same day Brady doesn’t have cars zooming up and down it," said Ald. Jonathan Brostoff.

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From Van Buren to Farwell, the streets were closed – only open for pedestrians. 

"It feels a lot safer with all the hit-and-runs, and the traffic fatalities," said Keya Grady. "We feel a lot safer." 

Brady Street Festival 2023

A pedestrian-first approach is something organizers, like Cade Gerlach with A Better Brady Street, want every day. 

"It’s a very negative experience to come here and feel that your life is in danger, or that you could get hurt and sent to the hospital," Gerlach said.

Last month, the Brady Street Business District released multiple options on how make the street safer. It comes after three hit-and-runs this year and several reckless driving incidents.

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"We are working to prevent that and making sure that doesn’t ever happen again," said Gerlach.

One option includes full access to cars, but adding speed tables. Another option allows people with limited access only for transit, emergency and delivery vehicles. 

"It’s not a question of if or when the next person gets hit," Gerlach said. 

FOX6 News has heard from people who live nearby. They said they are against closing traffic altogether.

Brady Street Festival 2023

"Ultimately, we are going to move toward a more pedestrian and bike safety operating street," said Brostoff.

As crowds filled Brady Street for the festival, it was a sight many people felt at ease with. 

"I don’t think anyone here is worried about getting hit by a car, it’s just one less stress that’s on their mind," said Gerlach.

Organizers with A Better Brady Street said they are advocating to have the street closed to traffic on Friday and Saturday nights. That would need to be approved by the city. Right now, the city has yet to make a decision, and any changes would be years down the road.