Streeteries were established as part of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) Shared Streets program, allowing restaurants to establish outdoor dining areas on streets that have been closed to vehicular traffic. First created in response to the COVID-19 health crisis, the pedestrian-friendly program will be extended throughout the summer and at least through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 5.
The County’s Streeteries are located in the downtown areas of Bethesda, Silver Spring and Wheaton.
“Our Streeteries program has helped reduce the transmission of the COVID virus while helping keep our restaurants in business and workers employed,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. "Streeteries have provided a safe gathering place for residents throughout a challenging time. These are family-friendly spaces that encourage community gathering and create enticing destinations throughout the County. As the weather begins to warm up over the next several weeks, I encourage all residents to enjoy these outdoor dining experiences and continue to support our local businesses.”
The program has been popular with businesses and residents. MCDOT assesses the road closures from an engineering perspective and is responsible for determining allowable uses of the roadway. The County’s Regional Services Centers have been collecting feedback on the program.
Residents who wish to provide their thoughts on a local Shared Streets program can call 311 and ask to be connected to the Regional Services Office for their area.
“Streeteries have become a model for street use as a community gathering place,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “In addition to being a popular destination for outdoor dining, Streeteries have contributed to people’s health and well-being by supporting walking, biking and spending time outdoors. These spaces have positively impacted the vibrancy of their communities. We are happy to extend this initiative throughout the summer.”
Coordination of the Streeteries involved multiple County departments, including Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS) and the Department of Permitting Services (DPS).
“Streeteries have a variety of models which meet the needs of each community,” said ABS Director Kathie Durbin. “For instance, some have extended cafes with alcohol service within that area and others allow open seating with a designated area to eat and drink. Overall, the Streeteries have been very positive. Businesses have been doing a good job developing alcohol policies to keep customers safe, we have not experienced a lot of violations.”
The initial concept was aimed to bring residents together in a safe outdoor environment while supporting County businesses that have struggled from the economic impacts of COVID-19. County departments have demonstrated flexibility and continue to assist businesses with long-term solutions to continue outdoor dining.
“Streeteries differ from the traditional ‘shared streets’ in that they have a hospitality focus and work to support multiple businesses,” said DPS Director Mitra Pedoeem. “Hospitality businesses located outside of the designated Streeteries can extend their service with an outdoor cafe through permitting. This will ensure overall public safety now that our rights-of-way are returning to normal use.”
For more information on MCDOT’s Shared Streets program and a listing of locations visit montgomerycountymd.gov/dot/sharedstreets.