New York Streets Open to Car-Free, Green Tourism in August

NEW YORK, New York, June 17, 2008 (ENS) – On three Saturdays in August, cars will be barred from a route through Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge to 72nd Street to give New Yorkers a car-free corridor for exercise and exploration. The experimental New York City program was announced Monday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

The idea behind the program, called “Summer Streets,” is to create an opportunity for residents to experience the city in a healthy, sustainable way while attracting “green tourism” to the city center, the officials said.

“We anticipate that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and visitors will take advantage of streets temporarily opened for recreation,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

“We hope the Summer Streets experiment will become as much a part of the New York experience as strolling the Coney Island boardwalk, participating in the 5-borough bike tour, or listening to the Philharmonic in the park,” he said.

Manhattan’s Central Park at 72nd Street
(Photo credit unknown)

The 6.9 mile route will be closed to cars from 7 am to 1 pm on three consecutive Saturdays in August, the 9th, 16th and 23rd. The car-free corridor via Centre Street, Lafayette Street, 4th Avenue and Park Avenue, features connections to Central Park and other open spaces.

Major cross-town streets will remain open for vehicles that need to cross the route.

Transforming traffic lanes into car-free recreation corridors has already been successful in Bogotá, Paris, Tokyo and London.

“In Bogota, they call it Ciclovia, or bikeway. In Paris, it’s the Plage, or beach. Here in New York, Summer Streets will literally turn the streets of our city into a pedestrian park,” said Commissioner Sadik-Khan.

Fitness, dance and yoga classes will be held at a central stage along the route, with additional exercise and health activities hosted by community groups at cross streets.

Event sponsors will organize activities, and bike rental facilities will be available along the route, including at hotels. Rest areas will be stationed along the route for water and bike repair, and serve as meeting areas to link up with friends and family members.

At the 72nd Street link to Central Park, the car-free route will occupy the southern half of the road only, while the north side will remain open to two-way vehicle traffic.

People on bicycles can access the park and the Hudson River Greenway from the West Side via bike lanes on West 90th and 91st Streets.

In Lower Manhattan, bike lanes will connect to the route from the Greenway via Warren, Reade, Hudson, and Chambers Streets.

Local streets will remain accessible to residents with vehicles and for deliveries. The Police Department will direct traffic around the route and all parking will be restricted starting at midnight on the day of the event. Additional staff and volunteers will be on hand to facilitate the event.

“The streets themselves are among the most valuable public space that the City has to offer, and finding the room within our existing street space for those on two feet or two wheels is a true application of our goals for a sustainable future under the Mayor’s PlaNYC initiatives and the DOT’s strategic plan,” said Commissioner Sadik-Khan.

Several cities in the United States, such as El Paso, Texas and Cambridge, Massachusetts, already have similar programs. Soon Portland, Oregon and Chicago, Illinois too will create similar pedestrian parks.

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