Vehicles To Yield (Slightly) on NYC Streets This Summer

Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 04:11 PM

At the press conference announcing NYC DOT's Summer Streets program. (Jim O'Grady/WNYC)

Car-free streets are back this summer in parts of Manhattan and Central Park.

Summer Streets is returning: seven miles of roadway will be closed from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., on the first three Saturdays in August.

At the same time, the Park Avenue Tunnel will be exclusively available to pedestrians. Last year, the seven-block tunnel was turned into a light show. This year, Department of Transportation staffer Emily Colasaco says it will echo with recordings that a Norwegian artist made of oceanic habitats. "There will be mammals, fish, glacial movements, water movements," Colasco said, describing what pedestrians can expect to hear in the tunnel.

In Central Park, the north-south drives above 72nd Street will be open to pedestrians and bicyclists only from June 27 through Labor Day. That's the same schedule as last summer, though transportation advocates had been hoping for more.

When asked about that at a press conference on Friday, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said closing streets takes planning: "Let's say you wanted to go past Labor Day, for example. Traffic in the city does pick up and you just have to make sure you're going to have a good plan to accommodate that."

She said traffic engineers at the department were studying signal changes and other solutions to possibly extend the duration of car-free streets in certain places beyond the summer. "We're definitely looking into that," she said.


Comments [12]

Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

Bronx whatever you say about me giving pro-car nonsense, I can say about you giving anti-car nonsense. Some of your claims are very questionable, and it could feel as if someone was reading the script of either Streetsblog or Transportation Alternatives. As matter of fact, both Mark Gorton and Paul Steely White, Jr have a history of paying researchers to come up with results in their favor just like the Koch brothers do. The way you claim on traffic makes me feel as if no real study was done on surrounding avenues for traffic. Again, you didn't answer my question on what will happen if it rains hard and isn't weather permitting on some of the days. Will it go as scheduled or just not have it that day and reopen the street to vehicular traffic? I'm asking this again, because it wasn't answered, and I will continue to ask it until an answer is given. By not answering, I feel that you are hiding something.

Jun. 24 2014 06:43 PM
Bronx from NYC

Tal, the reason why people disagree with you is because you are always spewing the same pro-driver nonsense in every post with no facts nor any clue about what is occurring.

Summer Streets is NYC's version of an international movement to democratize our streets. This is only the beginning and it will only expand over time (The Grand Concourse will also be closed this year). New Yorkers overwhelmingly support the Summer Streets program and desire longer hours and more (frequent) (widespread) closures.

The effect on citywide traffic is minimal, and at the same time the commercial establishments surrounding the event flourish. What's most important is that people get to enjoy themselves. City residents and visitors alike.

Jun. 23 2014 10:59 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

I just think that Summer Streets are a waste of space. Again, what will happen on one of the days if it's not weather permitting? Will it be canceled and reopen the streets to vehicular traffic or will it just go as planned? I'm still waiting for answer to this, and knowing that you guys are pretty defensive on this, I have a feeling that you are hiding something on this otherwise you would have no problem answering that question. The only place where I heard major support was Streetsblog, and that's mainly because their biasedly anti-car to begin with, so of course they will support it. Knowing Bloomberg and JSK, no traffic studies were probably allowed to be taken when they were first introduced, because they probably would have disagreed with them and bring the whole program into question.

Jun. 23 2014 03:54 PM
Bronx from NYC

Tal, this is not the first time this has been done here.

This program should be more frequent, last until much later in the day, more areas should be included.

Jun. 23 2014 02:56 PM
Chris McNally from Crown Heights

I love Summer Streets! I only wish it were on a better avenue, like Broadway, and of course that it went all day instead of 7am - 1pm.

Last year my GF and I rented a tandem and rode from Brooklyn, over the bridge and all through summer streets up to Central Park and all around the Park. We had lunch on the UWS. It was very popular judging by the crowds. It's great to have the streets for people instead of cars. I don't know why we don't do it every day in the summer.

Jun. 20 2014 05:31 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

Park Avenue is a major thoroughfare and is used constantly by commercial vehicles. Closing it off to them for the duration can create problems especially if they don't have any other entrances. BTW, stores and restaurants need to be stocked for the day, and they use it early in the morning for that to be ready. In reality, I doubt that most will go the whole route be it on foot or by bicycle. Maybe if it were shorter, there wouldn't have been that many complaints toward at first place. Also, there are the issue of how long it will take to set up and remove everything, which can also cause a lot of traffic. Again, what will happen if it isn't weather permitting on one of the days, which nobody seems to answer? Will the Summer Streets for that day be canceled and open to vehicular traffic or go as scheduled? If it's the latter, I would see it as a waste of space being in a thunderstorm or just raining constantly, and this is just out of taking this into account. Honestly, businesses don't need something like this to be known. On a side note, knock it off with the personal attacks, because last time I checked, I didn't see something saying locals only. Another thing is that you guys had your say on this, so let me have mine without you guys ganging up on me like that.

Jun. 20 2014 03:29 PM
AMHess from Harlem

It's silly that Summer Streets ends at 1pm. People are just coming out by then--it should go until at least 7pm and should extend up to Harlem.

Glad to hear that the tunnel will be open again. It's a very cool feature.

Jun. 20 2014 02:50 PM
Woody from Upper West Side

Why not expand Summer Streets far above 72nd St?

It could be a good experience for people to walk and
ride bikes into East Harlem, and a chance for restaurants
and other retailers to show themselves to new customers.

Jun. 20 2014 12:12 PM
Tyson White from UWS

Yo Peasantville, it's a park, not a highway. That's why.

Jun. 20 2014 11:10 AM
Ken from UWS

Elected officials and all of Manhattan's community boards have asked for a trial closing of Central Park's entire loop to cars. Despite the progressive and significant restrictions on car access to the park over the years, DOT says traffic on surrounding streets has not increased. The reason is "shrinkage," which traffic engineers never seem to factor into their equations. Moreover, car traffic in the park has now been scaled back so far that even without the inevitable shrinkage any impacts would be negligible. DOT can study a full park closing all it wants, but it's never going to know that a car-free park is possible until it tries it.

Jun. 20 2014 10:15 AM
Anna Zivarts from Inwood, NY

Yo Pleasantville, stay in the suburbs if you want to drive your car. If you drive into NYC you're just being selfish.

Jun. 20 2014 09:48 AM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

I never saw the reason for this. What it really does is just places alternating volume on other streets. Another thing is when the weather doesn't go well that day. Will it be postponed or canceled and reopened to vehicular traffic or will it still go as planned that day? I don't see why this can't just be placed in the parks where it will be much easier to set up and won't cause any problems for traffic patterns. Of course the claim that it can always be stopped if it fails will always be easier said than done, because the data can always be fudged to make it look successful when it's really not.

Jun. 19 2014 09:06 PM

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