New York City Goes Car Free

June 18, 2008 08:03 AM
by Rachel Balik
On three Saturday mornings in August, 6.9 miles of streets in Manhattan will be closed to automobile traffic for four hours. More permanent changes could follow.

30-Second Summary

On three Saturday mornings in August, 6.9 miles of New York City streets will be closed completely to cars, but open to pedestrians and cyclists. Stretching from the Brooklyn Bridge to 72nd Street and Park Avenue, the streets will be closed to cars from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has emphasized that this new initiative is an “experiment,” but that the city expects that “hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and visitors will take advantage of streets temporarily opened for recreation."

The idea of closing streets for pedestrians and bikers began in Bogota, Colombia, with a festival called “Ciclovia.” Ciclovia means “bikeway,” and every Sunday, several city streets are closed to cars, allowing cyclists to have free rein in those areas. El Paso, Texas, became the first U.S. city to pursue a similar experiment last May.

The initiative aligns with the newly popular idea of making cities more livable.  Copenhagen, Denmark, has set a notable example with its abundant bike paths and the Stroget, a pedestrian-only shopping street. Paris constructed a beach-like setting on the Seine where city-dwellers can rest in beach chairs or swim in a pool.

U.S. and Canadian advocacy groups are working to create more initiatives like these in North America.

Headline Links: City will try no-car zone in August

Background: Ciclovia

Related Topic: Pedestrian-friendly areas in Copenhagen and Paris

Reference: Resources for going car free

For information about the various ways of getting around the Big Apple, consult findingDulcinea's New York City Survival Guide.

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