For the Tenth Summer, Park Avenue Will Go Car-Free for Three Saturdays

Summer Streets season starts tomorrow.

Last year's Summer Streets. Photo: NYC DOT/Flickr
Last year's Summer Streets. Photo: NYC DOT/Flickr

Saturday marks the first Summer Streets of the year, where New Yorkers can bike and walk on seven car-free miles between the Brooklyn Bridge and 72nd Street from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In 2008, Summer Streets was a novel idea — the city’s first major open streets event. It wasn’t a parade or a fair, it was just a chance for anyone to get out and see what city streets are like without car traffic.

Now in its tenth iteration, Summer Streets hasn’t changed much since it was first introduced. Last year, the city also limited motor vehicle traffic in the Financial District for a “shared space” pilot, but that’s not happening this summer.

The city puts on plenty of other car-free events via its Weekend Walks program for neighborhood commercial streets. Only Summer Streets is big enough that you can travel a significant distance through the city.

The fact that Summer Streets has become such a popular institution is a testament to the work and thought that organizers put into it. But from the beginning it’s been held back by the substantial cost of police time devoted to managing streets and traffic. That limits the extent of Summer Streets, both in terms of geography and time. You have to be able to get to Manhattan by the morning to enjoy it.

Tomorrow’s forecast calls for a chance of showers in the morning, and because the event ends so early, the skies might not clear before people have to pack it in. Not that anyone should be discouraged by a warm drizzle. With Summer Streets, you’ve got to make the most of every minute.

For everyone who’s planning to head out, check DOT’s site for the rundown of events along the route. And if you’ll be biking in from Brooklyn, Transportation Alternatives’ Brooklyn committee is organizing a group ride, meeting at Foley Square at 9 a.m.

  • Vooch

    You anti car zealots will not be satisfied until cars are banned from Manhattan – this video series illuminates the horrifying results of pedestrian zones

  • Daphna

    Summer streets is only 3 Saturday MORNINGS. An improvement would be to extend the time to include Saturday afternoon at the very least, or preferably the whole day. Another improvement were if it were all Saturdays in August, not just three. Better yet would be every Saturday, (the day, not just the morning), for the whole summer.
    I remember the way summer streets was first described which was as car-free weekends in August along Park Avenue which generated a lot of excitement! Then it was clarified that it was only Saturdays, not the weekends. Then it was clarified that is was only three Saturdays, not all of the Saturdays (4-5) that occur in August. Then it was clarified that it was only Saturday mornings, not the whole day. Then is was clarified that is was only Park Avenue south of 72nd Street. This led to a lot of disappointment when compared to the initial announcement. Unfortunately, ten years later and it still is just 3 Saturday mornings in August for just part of Park Avenue. If it could be finally become all weekends in August as initially (incorrectly) announced, that would be a huge improvement.

  • AMH

    Fortunately I made it out in time to enjoy Summer Streets again. This time instead of trying to enjoy it to the end, I lined up a movie at 1pm so I wouldn’t be subjected to speeding cars and NYPD bullhorns chasing me off the street.

  • crazytrainmatt

    It’s lovely to have a carfree street but it’s pretty chaotic with different speeds of bike and pedestrian traffic all over. Seems that above 14th street things would be much smoother with two-way bike traffic (like a wide greenway) on one side of the Park median and pedestrians on the other.

  • It was all great until some kid peed into the pool at LG’s water park on East 70th.

  • AMH

    Ha, what did they expect?

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