Shared Streets to turn lower Manhattan into pedestrian’s paradise

Shared Streets will greatly limit traffic in a 60-square-block area of lower Manhattan on Saturday.

Downtown Manhattan will be a pedestrian’s paradise Saturday.

The event, known as “Shared Streets,” will greatly limit vehicular traffic in a 60-square-block area of lower Manhattan on Saturday, from the Brooklyn Bridge to The Battery, linking visitors to a variety of museums, parks and waterfront views via some of the city’s most historic streets.

“This is where the city began—long before there were cars,” said Jessica Lappin, president of the Alliance for Downtown New York. “It’s nice to encourage people play on the streets like they did a couple hundred years ago.”

The space will feature seven different posts with different activities like trivia games on city history and pop-up drawing studios for artists’ sketching pleasures as well as walking, cycling and boat tours on city-focused topics like women’s history and Manhattan film and television.

“On foot and by bike, we urge all New Yorkers and visitors to come south from Summer Streets Saturday — to enjoy all the food, music, history, culture and activities that Lower Manhattan will offer all day,” said Polly Trottenberg, the commissioner of the city Department of Transportation, in a statement.

Car-free days are already popular in other cities around the world, like Paris and Bogota, as part of Earth Day celebrations. Shared Streets will be the first time something similar is being tried in a major American city, according to the city DOT, which organized the event with Downtown Alliance and other administrative offices.

While cars won’t be banned entirely, motorists will have limited access points and will be encouraged not to exceed 5 MPH.

For downtown Manhattan, which has blossomed residential area over the last 15 years, it’s just as much about celebrating the community’s unique confines.

“Because this is where the island physically narrows there are lots of places to enjoy the waterfront,” Lappin said, “and that’s unique to us in Lower Manhattan.”

Vincent Barone