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Car-free Sunday on the Grand Concourse

In the early 1990s, three and a half miles of The Grand Concourse, a major arterial roadway in the Bronx, was closed to cars every Sunday from July thru November. The closures provided residents with much-needed open space to safely bike, walk, play and develop a sense of community with neighbors. Despite its popularity, New York City Mayor Rudy Guliani, ended the program in 1996.

grand-concourse_poster.jpg

Currently, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, and a number of community groups have joined Transportation Alternatives to revive the program on a trial basis. In this short piece, the happiness of the residents is visible, and it is clear that open space enlivens communities.

<br> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman">[intro music]</font> <br> </p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Clarence Eckerson Jr.:</i> [00:09] We’re out here on car-free Sundays on the Grand Concourse. You can see lots of people out here enjoying the open space. This programme takes parts of the Grand Concourse and closes it to cars. As you can see behind me, Transportation Alternatives has a very popular bike station set up here today. So we’re going to talk to some members of Transportation Alternatives about the Grand Concourse and how hopefully this is a programme that will be here to stay and just expand in the years to come. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Speaker:</i> [00:35] No karate chops, we’re going to do some light chops. Everybody, bend over slightly, and then we’re going to chop their back ever so gently. Now let’s go. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Dani Simons:</i> [00:55] Basically the idea is we’re closing down part of the Concourse for people to come out and ride their bikes, their power walks, there’s dance demonstrations, there’s a basketball court set up, and it’s just really a time for people to take back the street, to use it in a different way, a more creative way, a more fun way, and kind of get fit, clean the air a little bit and have a really good time. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman">[music]</font> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Noah Budnick:</i> [01:35] What people forget is that our streets can be changed. They can be reclaimed and they’re public and we have to think about what the most efficient and best use of this space is. Is it to store peoples’ private cars, who sit most days of the week not moving and taking up valuable space? There’s no other place in neighbourhoods like this around near the Grand Concourse and the Bronx for kids to come out, for families to come out and to just enjoy a day like today. And the importance of reclaiming this public space is to show people that this street, which most people assume is just for moving cars, can be used for a lot more. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Speaker:</i> [02:12] Today is fathers and daughter day. We’re babysitting our little girl’s right here, they’re doing their thing. God bless America. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Speaker:</i> [02:19] We like playing here. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Clarence Eckerson Jr.:</i> [02:20] Yeah?</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Speaker:</i> [02:20] Cos all the cars are leaving, and we can play anything we want. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Speaker:</i> [02:27] Like a flash street.</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Speaker:</i> [02:28] We can walk around, run around and play around like this. I hope it’s every Sunday. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>All:</i> [02:32] Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday Dear Brandon, Happy Birthday to you. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Speaker:</i> [02:47] My bike.</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Dani Simons:</i> [02:48] Car-free Sundays on the Grand Concourse started in the early ‘90’s. It was an idea that was promoted by then Borough President, Fernando Ferrer. And at that time they closed three and a half miles of the Grand Concourse every Sunday for all summer long for people in the Bronx to come out and walk, bike, play, get some exercise and give them some street space where they can play that’s right near their neighbourhood that will be safe and fun, a chance for all the neighbours to interact. In the mid ‘90’s the event was discontinued by Giuliani and that was really hurtful to the residents of the Bronx, people came out to public meetings and got really upset, and so Giuliani refused to let it go on and so the event sort of died out. Until a bunch of community groups started talking about how great that was and started to think maybe that they could approach now Borough President, Adolfo Carrion. Borough President Carrion and Deputy Borough President, Earl Brown, had been very supportive of the idea, their staff have put in a lot of hard work making this event a reality. And we look forward to working with them for many years to come, until we can, hopefully, close the whole Concourse to cars every Sunday. </font> <br> </p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman">[music]</font> <br></p> <a href="http://transcriptdivas.ca/transcription-canada/">Transcript Divas Transcription Canada </a>
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