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

Summer Streets season starts tomorrow.

Can't we just get this? Photo: NYC DOT/Flickr
Can't we just get this? 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.

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