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Sunday morning was the Tour de Bronx. An estimated 5,000 riders took to the streets. The highlight of the ride was the trip along a car-free Sheridan Expressway.

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The South Bronx River Watershed Alliance, a coalition of community groups and citywide organizations believes that the 1.25 mile stretch of road along the Bronx River can and should be car-free every day of the year. According to Transportation Alternatives:

This little used highway consumes more than 28 acres of prime land in the course of its redundant path from the Bruckner Expressway to the Cross Bronx Expressway (the Bruckner and Cross-Bronx are directly connected to the east and joined by the Deegan Expressway to the west). If SBRWA has its way, the Sheridan will be replaced with higher and better land uses, such as housing, commercial development, parks and greenways.

Though removing a highway sounds like a big project, there are many precedents for such a change from across the country and around the globe. In San Francisco, the Embarcadero Freeway and the Central Freeway have been razed and redesigned as vibrant public spaces. Portland blocked the Mt. Hood Freeway and instead opted for building mass transit and creating a city more livable for its residents. Even Milwaukee demolished its Park East Freeway to provide 26 acres for new development downtown. These examples and the groundwork laid by the SBRWA set the stage and now key decision-makers in New York are taking notice.

SWRBA's community plan to remove the roadway is in the State DOT's environmental study, which will decide the roadway's fate and is expected to come out in 2006 or 2007.

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The Open Planning Project's founder and executive director Mark Gorton and two little Gorton's were on the ride along with their brand new, Copenhagen-style, crib-on-wheels -- perhaps the first one in all of New York City. Streetfilms' Clarence Eckerson caught the ride on video, of course.

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"Unit 2664 calling for back-up. I've got 5,000 bike anarchists rolling up on the Sheridan..."

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