Taking a cue from Bogotá, Colombia’s wildly popular weekly Ciclovía, both Portland, Oregon and New York City are experimenting with shutting down sections of streets to automobile traffic. In place of polluting cars will be walkers, rollerbladers, cyclists, and dancers taking back their streets!
Portland’s effort, Sunday Parkways, coincided with the recent Towards Carfree Cities conference. The city reserved a circular 6-mile stretch of streets to non-motorized traffic on Sunday, June 22nd. The loop joined four city parks which each hosted free outdoor activities like aerobics and tai chi classes.
News Coverage of Sunday Parkways:
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to create a 6.9 mile car-free route from Brooklyn Bridge to 72nd Street. Offshoots will connect Central Park and other outdoor venues in the city. The Summer Streets program will run on 3 consecutive Saturdays: August 9th, 16th, and 23rd.
"We anticipate that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and visitors will take advantage of streets temporarily opened for recreation," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We hope the Summer Streets experiment will become as much a part of the New York experience as strolling the Coney Island boardwalk, participating in the 5-borough bike tour, or listening to the Philharmonic in the park."
While we’d like to see more routes that are permanently off-limits to vehicles and infrastructure that supports non-motorized transport, this is a great first step. Participants can self-propel in a safe, traffic-free environment; get a taste for what’s possible when cars are excluded; and are more likely to push for the expansion of such systems.
Via Portland Carfree Day & Treehugger.
Photo via flickr by BikePortland.org