These streets are made for riding


By Jefferson Siegel

The fumes and noise of motor vehicles were replaced by a peacefully meandering mass of strollers and cyclists last weekend as the city kicked off the first of three car-free “Summer Streets” Saturdays in August.

“Summer Streets” is modeled on similar events in Paris and Bogota in which a major traffic artery is reserved for bicycling, walking and any other form of nonmotorized transportation. 

A route of almost seven miles — stretching from the Brooklyn Bridge to E. 72nd St., via Park Ave., Fourth Ave. and Lafayette St. — was closed to traffic for six hours as people rode bikes, roller skates or just walked in the perfect weather. 

“Maybe the Olympics has people in a mood to get out and exercise,” said Ian Dutton, vice chairperson of Community Board 2’s Traffic and Transportation Committee. Dutton and his wife, Shea Hovey, were marshals for the event.  

To encourage participation, several groups set up stands with unique offerings. Transportation Alternatives escorted cyclists from the outer boroughs to the event, and Soho’s Bike Habitat offered basic bike repairs. Although the Bloomberg administration nixed a request by Time’s Up! to offer bike repairs, too, with City Hall saying the event should have only one official repair provider, Time’s Up! did give out bike decorations to cyclists.

Summer Streets continues the next two Saturdays, Aug. 16 and 23, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The city’s Department of Transportation will distribute free bike helmets at 24th St. and Park. Ave. South from 9 a.m. until noon.