NYC to Experiment With Car-Free Zone

Jonny Lieberman
by Jonny Lieberman
nyc to experiment with car free zone

Red Ken lives! Only he's moved across the pond, had massive surgery and now looks and sounds just like the Big Apple's mayor, Mike Bloomberg. Oh wait, it is Bloomberg. And he's lost his frigging marbles. To wit: According to the NYTimes (via Motor Authority ) the city is conducting a series of one day experiments and a nearly 7-mile stretch of road running from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Upper West side will be car, truck and bus free. This should prove quite (in)convenient for trust-funded socialites needing the services of their Williamsburg coke dealers. The "Summer Streets" program will run for three Sundays in August. If it proves successful the Mayor says they'll do it again. We'd like to know what metric they use to measure "success." Most people late for appointments? Most revenue lost by a single parking lot? Most miles walked by ticked-off bus riders? Store with the most missed deliveries? People often ask me why I left New York. Here's my new answer, "Officials are planning to run fitness, dance and yoga classes along the empty streets and will also rent out bicycles as part of the event." Joy.

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  • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Jun 18, 2008

    Most people seem to be looking forward to being free of horns, traffic jams, rude drivers, and the omnipresent congestion. Of course, this just moves the congestion elsewhere. Wow, street "gentrification." Doesn't matter to me one way or another...don't live there. I don't see why the Mayor wants to do this, but at least it does not come with a price tag to play.

  • Jcp2 Jcp2 on Jun 19, 2008

    I think the photo is from Disney Hollywood Studios (former MGM studios) in Florida.

  • NBK-Boston NBK-Boston on Jun 19, 2008

    I'm also going to have to pretty much disagree with the entire tone of this post. I've known several cities which close off a major street for pedestrian-only use during major summer weekends or holidays. It is hardly the end of the world, and people really seem to enjoy it. There is a world of difference to someone walking down a street when the cars are gone, the noise is reduced, and all the bikers and bladers come out for a look -- it's usually a change of pace and a good time. At any rate, I would find it very hard to imagine the street looking like the wasteland shown in the photo that accompanies the post -- it will more likely look like this, just hopefully with fewer silly face masks. (That's Cambridge, MA, where Memorial Drive, a major riverfront road, is closed on certain Sundays -- which is probably a bigger deal, in relative and absolute terms, say number of lane miles closed, than the New York proposal). You also have to consider that cities like New York shut down major streets all the time for all sorts of events, like the Thanksgiving Day parade, the Marathon, the St. Patrick's Day parade -- as well as all the freaky liberal crazy stuff like the Gay Pride parade and the like. A few more "events" per year hardly makes for a lunatic communist revolution, and is probably a good thing overall.

  • Valentine Valentine on Jun 19, 2008

    It is tempting as a lover of cars and of driving to write this off, but I think it's folly to dismiss it. This is actually the work of a brilliant Colombian mayor, Enrique Penalosa of Bogota. In Colombia they call it the Ciclovia and it encompasses the entire city, a city much larger than New York. He has been working with a number of community groups in Manhattan to plan this and the request for this has come, not from the Mayor's office, but from the people of NYC. A far cry from Mr. Livingston's methods. Go here to watch a very informative interview with Mr. Penalosa about the Ciclovia and one possible vision of a New New York. If they follow the Columbian model the busses and will still run. It is a way to give everyone in the city, children and adults alike, a chance to go out and play in the streets in the same way that suburban dwellers are able to. If you lived in the middle of a place as dense as Manhattan you might be calling for this too. (I do not live in Manhattan but have spent a great deal of time there and follow its development closely as it can point to things which might also make my city better.)