Summer Streets 2008 (NYC)
Feeling remarkably similar to Bogota's Ciclovia, the New York City Department of Transportation held its first Summer Streets event on Saturday by opening 7 miles of city streets to pedestrians and bike traffic only. From 7 AM to 1 PM, roads were car-free from 72nd Street to the Brooklyn Bridge with Park Avenue serving as the backbone of the route. Our Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is the real deal - she spent the entire day riding a bike around the course (and even said some nice things about me to my mom.)
We'll spare you the 200 adjectives we could list about how transformational it was, for it was beyond anything on the printed page. The general consensus was that the event succeeded beyond even the most hoped for expectations and would pass even the most pessimistic of measuring sticks. A page has been turned, clearly there is no doubt: the future will hold many more large scale street openings for pedestrians, cyclists, runners, children, dog walkers, dancers, and any other reasonable livable space use.
The swarms of people and happy faces made for much positive energy. Around noon, some blocks were getting very crowded, but there was a general courtesy that existed between pedestrians and cyclists. The city built it - and the people came. And they smiled a lot.
Speaker: [00:06] We’re sitting here in the sun enjoying the day, and it’s just great.
Speaker: [00:16] This is utopia New York.
Speaker: [00:20] Everyday should be Summer Streets day, yay.
Speaker: [00:24] There we go.
Janette Sadik-Khan: [00:27] All these people are going to enjoy car-free streets from 7am till 1pm, seven miles, all the way up some of the most iconic streets of New York, Park Avenue. We encourage everybody to get out and play and take a dance class, an aerobicise or cha-cha, do anything you want. And it’s not just about being in motion, it’s also about if you want to go out and have a cup of coffee and enjoy those streets and people watch. I mean there are wonderful ways to get out and enjoy the streets of New York and so this is going to be a great Saturday. It’s great for fitness, it’s great for fun, it’s just… it’s just a great way to see the city.
Speaker: [01:02] So now what do you guys have to do today?
Speaker: [01:05] We have to guard the street.
Speaker: [01:06] And protect. Serve and protect. We’re Marshals. We are Marshals.
Speaker: [01:11] Are you a little scared having the bare feet today?
Speaker: [01:13] Yeah, I was a little scared first mile, but since it’s been okay.
Speaker: [01:15] Yeah?
Speaker: [01:16] Yeah.
Speaker: [01:17] It’s a whole different perspective. I mean, you know, you zip by in a cab usually or you get to see things you would never otherwise see, you know, the statue of Cornelius Van Der Bilt, who knew?
Speaker: [01:27] The best part is watching people look up and enjoy buildings from the safety of the street instead of avoiding looking up because they’re trying to avoid collision with motorists.
Speaker: [01:36] For eight years we’ve been anxious to go, come out of the house and sit on the grass. You can sit here and have lunch. It’s a wonderful place to be. But it’s terrible during the day with the cars going along and the fumes and the noise and the horns and everything. But today, it’s incredible. I’m sitting here, you want to see the painting I did?
Gil Penalosa: [02:01] The general interest as we can see is that people want to take over the streets and people want to have fun and people want to meet out as equals and this develops a sense of belonging and this is really what makes New York the greatest city in the world.
Aaron Naparstek: [02:15] It actually reminds me a lot of Bogota, like all the dance classes in the middle of the street. I don’t know how everyone found out about it because the crowds are huge.
Speaker: [02:32] This is a unique experience. First time in New York City I’m experiencing this. I’m going all the way Downtown and coming back all the way Uptown.
Speaker: [02:44] Oh this is great fun, they should close the streets more often.
Speaker: [02:47] Summer Streets, we love them.
Noah Budnick: [03:01] It really shows that traffic is not like the weather, it’s not just something that is there and you can’t do anything about, and that when you get the cars out of the way, it really shows people what more can be done with the streets in the city and how they can be put to much higher uses.
Mark Gorton: [03:15] I’m sitting in the middle of Park Avenue and it is quiet and peaceful and wonderful. I got my kids right here and I’m not worried that they’re going to get run over by a car. I’m not paranoid that I have to keep an eye on them every second or their lives are in danger. You close the streets to traffic and the whole world opens up.
Mary Wittenberg: [03:34] We are so lucky to live in a city where Mayor Bloomberg and his team want to show the world that New York City is the sports capital of the world and a model city for healthy living. Who likes that?
All: [03:47] Me.
Speaker: [03:50] It was fantastic, I thought that it was great. I did see a lot of children really having fun.
Speaker: [03:54] It’s ridiculously fun, they should have done this a long time ago.
Speaker: [03:57] I love the fact that there was no noise in the street.
Speaker: [04:01] They should do it every Saturday and then add more days each year.
Gil Penalosa: [04:06] And I think we have to applaud the Mayor and the Commissioner for having had the guts. Sometimes it’s so much easier to do nothing, and then when you do nothing, no-one complains. But they are doing things and making our city more on the human scale and I think that’s what’s exciting.
Janette Sadik-Khan: [04:20]’We’ve got two more Saturdays to go after this and it’s my hope that this becomes an iconic event for New York City for the next hundred years.
Yeah a blast, a blast man. It’s a gas.