When New York City does something, it does it big. But does it do it right?
A 6.9-mile car-free route from the Brooklyn Bridge to the 72nd street entrance of Central Park will be opened for six hours during three Saturday mornings in August: the 9th, 16th, and 23rd, the Department of Transportation announced today. As part of the “Summer Streets” experiment, the city will organize fitness, dance, and yoga classes at a central stage along the route.
The program is modeled on the the wildly successful Ciclovia festival, a regular event in Bogotá, Columbia, and other popular street closure festivals worldwide. The route will start at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, wend its way along Lafayette Street until Astor Place, turn onto 4th Avenue, and continue the rest of the way up Park Avenue.
Only a few major cross-town routes like Houston and 14th streets will remain open to traffic, something that may delight cyclists but peeved many business owners.
“It is bringing together a community,” said Wiley Norvell, of Transportation Alternatives. While police direct traffic, TransAlt and other environmental non-profits will help run the program, encourage people to attend, sponsor their own workshops along the route, and keep the route safe.
“The length of Summer Streets is what makes it amazing. This connects communities who don’t have parks to those who do. It also connects people from Prospect Park to Central Park,” Norvell said. “I want to make sure to help New Yorkers make the most of the opportunity.”
Along with business owners, taxi drivers expect to take a loss due to street closures. “They’ve got to be kidding,” manager and owner of the League of Mutual Taxi Owners Vincent Capone told The Sun. “It’s getting harder and harder for a cab driver to be out there making a living with all these traffic rules.”