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Car-Free “Boogie on the Boulevard” Opens Up the Grand Concourse for Play

The temporary play field on the Grand Concourse's main roadway during Sunday's Boogie on the Boulevard. Photo: @ahtway
This weekend's "Boogie on the Boulevard" featured a temporary play field on the Grand Concourse's main roadway. Photo: @ahtway

Sunday marked the first car-free "Boogie on the Boulevard" of 2016, and for a few hours on a few blocks, the center lanes of the Grand Concourse were full of people.

From May through August this year, on the last Sunday of each month, a few blocks of the Concourse north of 162nd Street will be a car-free gathering space from noon to 4 p.m., continuing a tradition that extends back to the early 1990s. This Sunday, the three blocks from 162nd to 165th were opened up -- and the event may extend up to 167th Street later in the summer. The first incarnation of the event stretched three and half miles but was shut down by Mayor Giuliani in 1996.

Still, "Boogie on the Boulevard" shows how the Grand Concourse can do much more than move traffic. Those four car-free hours featured musical performances, games for kids, and group yoga. Volunteers from Transportation Alternatives' Bronx Committee were also on hand to rally support for the "Complete the Concourse" campaign, which aims to slow car speeds, create safer pedestrian crossings, and add protected bike lanes along the entire length of the Concourse from 138th Street to Mosholu Parkway.

The Grand Concourse consistently ranks among the state's most dangerous roads for pedestrians, and is one of DOT's Vision Zero "Great Streets" projects slated for multi-million dollar capital improvements in the coming years. While there are buffered bike lanes on the service roads above 162nd Street, they are frequently blocked by double-parked cars. There are no service roads and no bike lanes below 162nd Street.

Wednesday evening, DOT will present an update on the next phase of the Grand Concourse reconstruction to Bronx Community Board 4. Biking and walking improvements may be part of the plan.

In February, DOT told Streetsblog that it will "replace and upgrade the existing bike lanes as part of the ongoing capital reconstruction of the Grand Concourse." So far the agency has released pedestrian safety enhancements for the Concourse below 158th Street, but no plans for bike lanes, which it said could be incorporated into a future capital project.

Opening the Concourse to its full potential. Photo: @urbanresidue
Photo: @urbanresidue
Opening the Concourse to its full potential. Photo: @urbanresidue

The "Complete the Concourse" campaign has gathered nearly 2,500 petition signatures -- 120 more people signed on Sunday. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. local council members Ritchie Torres, Andy Cohen, and Rafael Salamanca Jr. have signed on. Salamanca, who won a special election to replace Maria del Carmen Arroyo, is the most recent to add his name; he endorsed the campaign after meeting with TA members in April.

If you want to lend your support, TA's Bronx Committee hosts monthly "action rides" on the first Friday evening of each month and has been canvassing surrounding neighborhoods on the second Tuesday of each month. You can sign the petition and learn more on TA's website. Tomorrow's CB 4 meeting is happening at 6 p.m. in Bronx Lebanon Hospital's Murray Cohen Conference Room.

Tikes on BMX bikes. Photo: @mullalybikepark
Tykes on BMX bikes. Photo: @mullalybikepark
Tikes on BMX bikes. Photo: @mullalybikepark

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