Bloomberg, Sadik-Khan and Friends Unveil “Summer Streets”

David Byrne, Janette Sadik-Khan, Paul Steely White, Lance Armstrong, and Scott Stringer look on mirthfully as Mayor Bloomberg announces "Summer Streets."

New York’s Ciclovía-style car-free event will go by the name "Summer Streets," Mayor Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Sadik-Khan announced at a press event this afternoon. Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson was on hand to capture footage, which he plans to edit for your viewing pleasure in the near future. To tide you over until then, here are some highlights from the press release (and more photos after the jump):

“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.”

“In Bogotá, 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. “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.

”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 select cross streets. Event sponsors will also 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…

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.



Top photo: NYCDOT; other photos: Transportation Alternatives.

  • brent

    Everyone make sure to patronize the businesses along the route during the event. Support from the business community will be crucial. Am I understanding this right- will the GC Station/ Helmsley Building section of Park Ave be claimed by peds and cyclists?

  • brodart

    I’m going to get wasted at a bar along the route and run down the street naked!

  • Might be a good idea too to write Commissioner Sadik-Khan and Mayor Bloomberg thanking them for helping to make this a reality. After the whole congestion pricing thing, I would have doubted such a plan could be instituted in the city. But I think (along the same lines as brent) that businesses on the closed streets will see an increased number of patrons, which I hope will lead to more business community support for reducing auto traffic.

  • is it me or is lance armstrong everywhere these days?

  • Park Avenue

    Looks like someone’s gonna get up early to participate in this. I’ll bring a blanket, beverages and food. A picnic on Park Avenue. How delightful.

  • i’m going to take pictures of brodart and post them to Streetswiki

  • Larry Littlefield

    Remember that anti-Prince Street guy who said why don’t you do something like that in Brooklyn where you Streetsblog folks live?

    Well, why not?

    Fifth Avenue in Park Slope. Let the restaurants and other stores set up tables in the parking lane, and let the buses move through around the barriers.

  • BrotherFromAnotherPlanet

    Bloomberg doesn’t get it. If you close down a major thoroughfare then the traffic spills over to other routes causing more congestion, more gridlock and more pollution. Prohibition is never the way to solve a problem, if they want less cars on the road NYC and the state of NY need to provide better public transportation options particularly from the outer boroughs, and keep these running comprehensively at the weekends as opposed to the way the MTA operates currently. Also a huge number of traffic issues could be dealt with by a mixture of public education re: civic driving, eg not blocking junctions or stopping in the middle of the street to wait for someone to run into the store, and extra enforcement with instant fines (this would also require them to police the police who are among the worst offenders of law breaking, uncivic driving).
    For those who thought congestion pricing was a good idea try talking to Londoners who live just outside the zone there (London was Bloomberg’s model) and ask them if they appreciate the massive extra traffic and accompanying pollution they now endure.

  • Am I understanding this right- will the GC Station/ Helmsley Building section of Park Ave be claimed by peds and cyclists?

    I’m sayin’! I can’t wait to ride or walk through the Park Avenue Tunnel and along the Grand Central road.

    BTW, if I owned an antique store on Park Avenue, I’d take my two cheapest sofas and stick them out in the sidewalk. People would be walking and cycling past, stop to sit down for a few minutes and say, “hey, I like this couch. Got any more?”

  • Brother (#8), your ideas about enforcement and “civic driving” are great. But you also make some assumptions.

    One is that traffic is a fixed quantity that “spills over to other routes.” I think that’s a short-term phenomenon, as when an crash results in traffic being re-routed. In fact, traffic is dynamic, and external factors may increase or decrease it in the longterm. For instance, high gas prices may cause people to drive less. Or the knowledge that there are fewer lanes for cars and more for bikes and peds in Manhattan may lead to less driving and more bike riding and walking in Manhattan. This would probably affect Manhattan residents who own cars as much as anybody.

    Also, though I may be going out on a limb here, I suspect many outer-borough drivers are former transit users who view driving as a both a reward of adulthood and a social promotion. Giving them better transit options may not be enough to get them back into transit. But giving them better transit options and a considerably less car-centric landscape in Manhattan may change their behavior when they travel into Manhattan. If any outer-borough drivers would like to add anything to that, I’m all ears.

  • Paul

    We should remove Central Park so we can add more streets, because the congestion around it is horrible.

  • Marie

    If Bloomberg really wants to clear congestion then he should support the Ban on Horse drawn carriages which is inhumane and a midtown gridlock. End the Cruelty, ASPCA supports the ban.

  • Anonymouse

    Paul, I think you’re on to something. We should remove the buildings NYC too! Then there’d be more room for cars.

  • BrotherFromAnotherPlanet

    Paul why not just scrap all outer borough cars in Manhattan completely that’ll solve the problem in minutes. Then when we’ve grown up a little pray tell us your extensive personal knowledge of the effects of London’s congestion zoning for the centre of town on the neighborhoods of Camden Town, Islington, Kings Cross, Notting Hill etc especially that idyll of car fumes Marylebone Road.

    Mark, fairly solitary events like the Summer Streets will not affect behavior, and although high gas prices or similar measures may have a long term effect (though extremely high gas prices in Europe for years have not noticeably decreased traffic) prohibition, as any cursory glance at history will tell you, always fails – think drug use, capital punishment/murder rates, the 20’s. Further may I suggest that most drivers, outer borough and otherwise, drive because it’s more convenient for them for a myriad of reasons from the availability of transport near their homes to physical health issues to transporting heavy stuff as well as being cleaner and more private.

    I’m all for having less gas cars on the road but the route there is not by penalizing one section of society or worse, putting in yet another regressive tax but in developing clean (both inside and out) transport alternatives and raising community feeling. I dream of a day when our electricity is clean and we’re riding around in battery operated vehicles but Bloomberg is not moving us in that direction with his petty war on drivers.

  • Anonymouse

    Brother, you might suggest that “most drivers, outer borough and otherwise, drive because it’s more convenient for them for a myriad of reasons from the availability of transport near their homes to physical health issues to transporting heavy stuff as well as being cleaner and more private.”

    but you’d be wrong.

  • BrotherFromAnotherPlanet

    OK, mouse, enlighten me.

  • Felix

    If they extended it a bit into Brooklyn, Prospect and Central parks could be linked.

  • Geck

    Oh Brother!

    City streets are a limited resource that must be allocated more equitably. Regressive tax my foot. Those who can afford to drive into Manhattan and park there are not suffering.

    Some people will drive no matter what else is available. Others will make an enlightened choice to not burden a congested area with one more car when other options are available. And some will be swayed other factors like higher prices for gas or congestion charges (not prohibition but paying a fair price for using a precious resource of which there is not enough for everyone).

    And may drivers will stay away from summer streets.

  • BrotherFromAnotherPlanet

    Geck you clearly live in a world of enlightenment, privilege and good health. Call me when you’re living in Hollis Queens, 20 mins from the end of the subway line with moderate sciatica on a rainy day. (FTR This is just an example not my story).
    I will assume you tithe at least 10% of your income to charity, not just recycle your plastics, bottles and paper but take your wet garbage tp your local community compost heap and spend your spare time singing tunefully to children in hopsices.

  • Dave

    Just because you live 20 minutes from the subway and have sciatica does not mean that you should have the right to cross bridges for free (which are expensive to maintain) and park on Manhattan streets for free (which are also expensive to clean and maintain)

    The city subsidizes driving into Manhattan by not charging tolls and by allowing free parking on the streets. This absolutely has to change.

    Put a $2 toll on every bridge into Manhattan to equal the notional subway fare. Simplify parking rules to give permits based on residency in those areas where parking is tough (all of Manhattan, some of Bronx, Brokklyn and Queens and probably none of SI) to discourage driving into Manhattan.

    And frame it all as a way to subsidize transit so that the fare doesn’t have to go up for the real needy who take transit because they don’t have a car.

    If you have a car and live far from transit either give up the car and move closer to transit (and pay more in rent) or drive to transit and take it from the outer reaches. The city has no reason to subsidize your living far from transit so you can drive around the city at will.

    Toll the East and Harlem bridges now.
    Two-way tolls on the VNB and all crossings.
    Permit parking for city tax payers.

    It’s all very simple.

  • Davis

    If you close down a major thoroughfare then the traffic spills over to other routes causing more congestion, more gridlock and more pollution.

    Brother From Another Planet: Your blanket statement above is not correct. When you close down a major thoroughfare, more often than not, the number of cars on the streets around that closed road is reduced. Do some reading:

    I fully expect that the streets around the Summer Streets event will be exceptionally mellow.

  • Davis

    fairly solitary events like the Summer Streets will not affect behavior

    Again, Brother: I can’t imagine how you could be so confident in saying that. The facts suggest otherwise.

    The big time transportation policy changes underway in cities like Bogota, London and Paris all launched, to some degree or another, with one-off events street reclamation events that showed how life in the city can be different when streets are opened up and used for something other than storing and moving a relatively small minority’s private automobiles.

    In Bogota it was Ciclovia. In Paris it was the Plage. In London it was the reclamation of Trafalgar Square.

    These events marked the beginning of building political and popular support for transformative transportation policy initiatives like the TransMilenio bus network, Velib and congestion charging.

  • paulb

    I can’t wait for the Streetfilm, just to find out what Mayor Mike said that was so darn hilarious. Maybe Astor Place Hair will have chairs out on the street for haircuts.

    PS. This is supposed to be something more than a streetfair, right? I mean, it’s not as if streets don’t ever get closed off to traffic now.

  • BrotherFromAnotherPlanet

    Clearly I’m conversing with a group of Manhattanites with the usual sense of entitlement and lack of empathy for those who live in other parts of the tri-state of this breed and who have no first hand knowledge of London since congestion pricing (I do, hometown, friends, parents) .

    Dave, $2 toll is absurd, it would cost most of that to collect; we all pay taxes these are used to subsidize many things for the public good including roads and bridges, although I would fully support a higher tax on car ownership especially if weighted heavily on luxury vehicles; permit parking is one option but again London’s example shows it’s not a very good one; you’re flip idea that people should just move closer to transit only shows that you have no understanding of real life where people have families, elderly parents and children in school, moving is not an easy option and if everyone drives to the few mass transit options (many do) there will be terrible congestion at these spots.

    Davis, your link wasn’t very informative, maybe I need to read the pdf, will when there’s time, bit briefly have you ever considered that the behavioral changes you want may be negative changes for those making them? Also your info on Trafalgar Sq is wrong so I’m guessing much else is to..

    There seems to be a lot of NIMBY going on around here. Unbecoming.

  • JF

    Clearly I’m conversing with a group of Manhattanites with the usual sense of entitlement

    Clearly, you have no idea. I know where a lot of these people live, and it isn’t Manhattan. Ad hominem is counterproductive to everyone and embarrassing to you; please don’t resort to it.

    There seems to be a lot of NIMBY going on around here.

    Manhattanites saying they want a street closure in Manhattan is NIMBY?

  • fdr

    paulb, I don’t know what Bloomberg said that was so hilarious, but the video is on the NYC web site. Maybe it was when he said that he and Paterson are still friends.

  • Danaeo

    In this case, the city’s not closing streets during weekday rush hour, it’s providing open space for bikers and pedestrians on a day when many living in the city are not working. After a few close calls with inattentive drivers, I’ve concluded I can’t take my seven year old out for bike rides even on bike lanes. It’s just too dangerous. When do we get to use the streets?

  • Larry Littlefield

    “If they want less cars on the road NYC and the state of NY need to provide better public transportation options particularly from the outer boroughs.”

    That’s the idea, but in this case the improvment is to walking and biking by taking space away from cars.

    As for public transportation, it’s purpose is to pay for past debts, pensions and retiree health care, not to move people around. As people are going to find out.

  • annie

    On the 6 pm news last night, the opener for this story was couched in terms of street closures and what a huge hassle they are (“if you think traffic’s bad now, JUST WAIT til you see what the city has in store!”) It never ceases to amaze or annoy that the media continues to portray livable streets initiatives as events that have such detrimental effects on drivers – although I guess NY1 sometimes does a better job focusing on benefits to alternate modes.

  • Shemp

    Channel 11 news last night was very upbeat about the plan, as is most of the coverage in the daily papers this morning.

    Whatever evening news Annie was watching probably took its lead from Monday’s NY Sun article. It’s not like too many of these TV editors do any original work.

  • Spud Spudly

    Count me as a PIMBY — Please In MY Backyard!

  • JK

    Let’s hope the cops learn how to do this with fewer people. Anyone else do the math on this? DOT was quoted as saying the Park Ave closings will cost $900,000. Divide that by 6.9 miles, three days and 5 hours each Saturday and you get roughly $8,700 an hour for each car-free mile. That seems like enough to keep this from being scaled up citywide unless the cops relax a bit and reduce their staffing requirements — which they should be able to do.

  • Streetsman

    I will be excited to see how all the drivers screaming bloody murder will stay home for fear of traffic Armageddon. And then all the streets around this event will be pleasant and quiet as vehicle volumes will be much lower than usual.

    What you will hear is the whirring of bicycle wheels, the sounds of children playing, and the footfalls of thousand of pedestrians enjoying the new public spaces and patronizing local businesses.

  • Moser

    Clearly the police tend to approach the idea of a bunch of people getting together in the street as a problem rather than as a good thing, and react accordingly.

  • Harry D’amato

    Brother from another planet:

    You’re wasting your time on this blog.

    It is the same coterie constantly and they know more than you do, they’ll have you know that. Don’t argue about traffic congestion in London with them. What do you know? You only are from there, These zealots on the other hand know more and know what is best for everyone else in the world.

    I tried commenting, but don’t waste my time on such futile enterprises anymore.

    These are the committed who, as you say, are self-entitled, lack empathy, recycle misinformation, hold Colombia as a model of good government, and whose hubris you can never surmount.

  • Streetsman

    Let me translate Harry’s frustrated assessment of Streetsbloggers:

    “self-entitled” – believe peds and bikes should be safely and equitably accommodated on city streets

    “lack empathy” – refuse to be forced to exist in an environment dominated by a single mode of transportation that they neither possess nor utilize

    “recycle misinformation” – cite studies and statistics our opposition is unfamiliar with, rather than erroneous conventional wisdom

    “hold Columbia as a good model of government” – look to other cultures for examples of best practices

    “hubris” – devotion

  • Elsewhere in the hubris department:

    I am my car … those who restrict my car are rejecting me as a person … I am offended. Silence them!

    I thought Brother got off to a good start with his original post. It merited discussion, and got some. But one shouldn’t be surprised when people in a liveable-streets forum advocate livable-streets issues.

    I am my feet, but hey, at least they’re attached to my body.

  • I tried commenting, but don’t waste my time on such futile enterprises anymore.

    Maybe you would have had better luck if you’d managed to write a comment that didn’t insult every other commenter in the thread.

  • I’m a little disappointed in the “Summer Streets” plan. I know it’s just a preliminary test, but I think they could have done a better job and done some semi-permanent nice weather ped/bike paths for the whole weekend for the summer.

    Instead of just limiting it to one main thoroughfare running North/South, connect the east and west sides with temporary greenways running along some streets. Connecting the east and west side greenways seems like such an obvious idea… Why couldn’t they connect the Queensboro Bridge to Central Park? What about a weekend temporary greenway to get cyclists up to the GWB so they wouldn’t have to crowd the west side greenway? How’s about a route up to Van Cortland Park so we can pick up the South County Rail Trail?

    I don’t think they’ve gone far enough to really show people what this sort of thing can do. I’m disappointed.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    self-entitled, lack empathy

    Thanks, Harry. I actually find it somewhat difficult to identify any sub-set of the human species more self-entitled and lacking in empathy than the New York City car commuter. It’s bad enough that our 5% of the world’s population consumes 25% of the world’s energy. But now we’re even feeding corn and grain to our cars, driving up food prices, literally, taking food off the plates of people in poorer parts of the world. For what? So Harry or whomever can continue to have a convenient and inexpensive commute from Flatbush to Midtown via single-passenger Escalade? And now we’re all supposed to feel sorry for your “pain at the pump?”

    Self-entitled and lacking empathy, indeed.

  • Harry D’amato


    What gave you the impression I own a car? That was not the point of my comments to “brother”.

    My point was that unless one toes the line on this blog, one gets vilified.
    It is the converted preaching to the converted. I only read it to get news on transportation issues.

    That is why I so rarely comment, because how does one have a rational discussion with zealots?

    Your comment and another angry commenter proved my point. E.g., you assume I drive a car from Bklyn to Manhattan. I don’t. Similarly, it is likely that many of the other assumptions on this blog are false.

    I was only trying to provide a public service to ‘Brother’, not to waste his time in debate on this blog. He cannot win.

    I shall now take my advice, and sign off.

  • Dave

    I reject the comment that I as a Manhattan resident have a sense of entitlement; it is those who drive into Manhattan every day that have the sense of entitlement that they should be able to do so for free and to park for free. Manhattan is different from the other boroughs as it is the main shopping, office and entertainment area. As such it needs and deserves streets and parking rules that are different from other areas.

    – It is ludicrous that it is cheaper to drive into the city and park for free than it is to take mass transit. So forget the $2 ERB and HRB tolls and make ’em $6 (with EZ-Pass BTW collection doesn’t cost much); people are lazy and prefer to drive. Make them pay for the right to do so.
    – 60% of drivers into Manhattan park for free on the streets. Eliminate this through permit parking which is in every other major city worldwide. Even if it only works partly it is better than not having it at all. I used to think it should be citywide but now I think it should only be where it is needed; all of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.

    And for those of you calling congestion pricing, tolls and permit parking regressive taxes you are wrong. An increase in transit fares is regressive as it hits the non-car-owning public the most. Anything to do with auto fees by definition is not regressive as it hits the relatively wealthy segment of the population.

  • The Bronx did this more than 15 years ago! It was called Car Free Sundays on the Grand Concourse, until Giuliani nixed in 1996 to spite Freddy Ferrer. Bizarre to cite Bogota when the Bronx pioneered this.
    We’ve got a blog post on this at, home of the Norwood News, Mount Hope Monitor and Highbridge Horizon.

  • BrotherFromAnotherPlanet

    You guys are too enlightened for me, I would never have figured out that anyone would rather drive in to work sitting in traffic both ways and praying for a parking space than hop on the subway because they are lazy and self entitled. Wow thanks people you’re understanding of human nature is breathtaking.

    “self-entitled” – believe peds and bikes should be safely and equitably accommodated on city streets;
    —self entitled because you clearly think that it’s “my way or the wrong way”.

    “lack empathy” – refuse to be forced to exist in an environment dominated by a single mode of transportation that they neither possess nor utilize;
    —lack of empathy because you don’t grasp that other people may have reasonable cause for their actions even if they are not ones you favor.

    “recycle misinformation” – cite studies and statistics our opposition is unfamiliar with, rather than erroneous conventional wisdom;
    — I’m new here so I can’t comment with any authority but in the discussion I seem to have spurred I’ve only been offered one link to serious info and have seen a bunch of sloppy info and ad hominems.

    “hold Columbia as a good model of government” – look to other cultures for examples of best practices
    –and studiously ignore someone from another culture whose experience doesn’t fit your meme.

    “hubris” – devotion
    —more like self-satisfied and I’ll wager completely hypocritical (ie, use A/C, fly to vacations, shop at stores stocked by truck, eat food that isn’t grown locally, download pirated music etc etc.)

  • Brother and Harry, you seem to have overlooked that this blog is for people who want liv(e)able streets – streets without much car traffic, if any. Most of the regular readers have already decided that this is what we want.

    Other people post here who haven’t decided that they want liveable streets, and sometimes we argue with them and try to explain why we want them. But our major focus on this blog is not revisiting this decision over and over again, it’s discussing how best to achieve our goal.

    There are other areas where we can debate the merits of car-dependent vs. walking/transit/cycling lifestyles. Streetsblog is not intended for that kind of debate.

    You can both see some value in shifting people away from car use and towards transit, walking and cycling, right? Please feel welcome to participate if you do. If you’d prefer to argue this point, you may very well get low-quality counter-arguments. That’s the way it is.

  • 45 comments worth of angst later, does anyone remember the subject of Ben Fried’s story? If not, scroll up and read some great news! Then read other recent S’blog stories about the Broadway Boulevard improvement, the activity around Madison Square, Obama talking up mass transit, and bike lanes breaking out all over. The (seeming) death of the bus rapid transit enforcement bill in Albany is a bummer, especially coming so soon after the congestion pricing stunner — but these setbacks notwithstanding, we’ve had a bumper crop of good news lately. I’m elated. And I’m mailing my membership renewal to TransAlt tomorrow. Now if I could just make up my mind about the silent E in liveable/livable streets….

  • TheGrownUp

    Cool.  We follow two economic powerhouses known for common sense, encouraging business, creating jobs, and low prices – Bogota and Paris.  Waahaaahaaa!  Here is your sign…


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