NEW YORK, New York, August 8, 2008 (ENS) - New York City will clear a stretch of clogged Manhattan streets for the next three Saturdays so that bicyclists, runners, walkers and dancers can enjoy a car-free and noise-free experience.
Hip-hop star Jay-Z joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan yesterday to publicize the pilot program called Summer Streets that will close seven miles of city streets from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park.
An enthusiastic bicyclist, Jay-Z hailed the events as opportunities for teens to get involved in positive activities.
Mayor Bloomberg sees the Summer Streets program as a new way to enjoy the city. "We're going to embark on a grand experiment that could dramatically alter the way we use and look at the streets of New York," he said. "Streets that are normally tied up with cars and trucks will be turned over to the public - so that we can experience this city as never before."
"We're inviting New Yorkers and visitors to come out and enjoy the city by foot or by bike, and for a few hours, allow people to enjoy it free of vehicles," said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. "Come out and move around, people watch, or just enjoy your morning coffee without the stress of noise and traffic. Enjoy the streets you've been up and down 100 times before, in a whole new way."
For the next three Saturdays, August 9th, 16th and 23rd, from 7 am to 1 pm, vehicle traffic will be replaced along seven miles of City streets by New Yorkers and visitors taking leisurely strolls, going for a bike ride or taking part in organized activities such as aikido, salsa dancing, tai-chi, running, rollerblading and hopscotch.
Summer Streets will be open from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park along Lafayette Street, 4th Avenue, Park Avenue and 72nd Street.
Three rest stops will be located along the route in addition to a main stage at 24th Street, which will feature music performances and other programs. The rest stops, located at Spring, 24th and 51st streets, will also feature art, fitness, dance and cultural activities.
New York Road Runners will be leading running groups for all ages and ability levels, and Bike New York will be holding bike riding classes for children and adults.
The Department of Transportation will provide free bike helmets at 24th Street for adults and children from 9 am to noon, as supplies last.
All of the rest stops will have water stations, bike maps and first aid stations. Participants are encouraged to bring their own fitness mats and water bottles, which can be refilled at the water stations. Emergency services will be present along the length of the route.
There will be opportunities to rent or test ride bikes along the route. For people who come with bikes there will be bike repair provided at each rest stop to ensure everyone can keep rolling along smoothly.
Bicycle Habitat will be providing bike repair along the route, and bike sharing will be provided by Bike and Roll. Bike New York and the 5 Boro Bike Club will be leading classes and sharing tips about how to ride safely in New York City.
Police will redirect traffic to nearby streets and emergency vehicles will have unfettered access to the Summer Streets.
Residents on streets adjoining the route will have local access and be able to receive deliveries during Summer Streets hours. Working with the Mayor's Community Affairs Unit, the DOT has conducted an extensive community outreach operation to inform and educate the public, and address any potential concerns.
The entire route is easily accessible by subway on the Lexington Avenue line.
"If the program works, we'll strongly consider doing it again; maybe we'll try it in other parts of the city," said Mayor Bloomberg. "If it doesn't work, we won't, but we can't be afraid to find out."
To see more information on Summer Streets, including a full list of activities, click here.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.