On Monday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled "Summer Streets." For three Saturdays in August, pedestrians and cyclists will enjoy exclusive access to a contiguous stretch of city thoroughfares running from the Brooklyn Bridge to 72nd Street. No cars allowed. Alright!
We're talking about a path more than half the length of Manhattan -- 6.9 miles, to be precise -- where people can walk, bike, shop, and otherwise enjoy the city free from the intrusion of motor vehicles.
The core idea behind Summer Streets, according to Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, is to change the way people view the city. "We're really committed to treating our 6,000 miles of streets as more than just travel corridors, but as really vital public places," she said at the press conference. "For many of us, our streets are really our front yards and this new initiative will allow us to enjoy them free of vehicles."
While plans for congestion pricing in New York have suffered setbacks, the launch of Summer Streets may help shore up public support when the idea resurfaces. It also figures to strengthen the hand of advocates fighting for a safer, expanded bike network. Perhaps the most encouraging news is that its spreading: El Paso staged its variation on Ciclovía last summer, and other American cities -- including Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Portland -- are also preparing major car-free events, setting the stage for policies to reduce car dependence.