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Business Owners Split On Benefit Of 'Open Streets'

Open Streets PGH


Pittsburghers can explore parts of Downtown, Lawrenceville and the Strip District unimpeded by cars on Sunday for the summer's first Open Streets event.

Vehicle traffic will be barred for a 3.5-mile stretch of Penn Avenue and Butler Street from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., but drivers will be able to cross at several intersections. Last year, about 44,000 people took part in three block parties combined.   

“Open Streets is a way of connecting neighbors to other neighbors, connecting Pittsburghers to neighborhoods where they may not spend much time," Bike Pittsburgh Spokesperson Ngani Ndimbie said. "That’s one of our greatest measures of success."

Though Penn Avenue and Butler Streets will be closed from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., cars will be able to cross at 11 intersections throughout the event.

Pittsburghers can walk, bike, shop and participate in several fitness classes along the route. More than 40 businesses along Penn and Butler are also offering specials or samples, though not all business owners see the event as way to boost their revenues.

“This Sunday is the Sunday before the Memorial Day holiday; everybody will be closed, and it should be a busy day," Strip District Meats owner Raymond Turkas said. "But people aren’t going to come to my meat store to buy a meat order for the holiday on a skateboard."

Business owners have expressed differing views on the event, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Only some said Open Streets helped increase their regular sales.

Several events are also scheduled in Market Square, including yoga and a historic walking tour.

Sunday’s Open Streets event is the first of three city events. The next two are scheduled for June 26 and July 31.