Sunday, August 17, 2008

Putting the Park back in Park Ave.

Summer Streets rocks! Really.

Frustratingly, I've just spoken to a few of my friends who have never heard of it. Leaving aside the fact that even my friends don't read my blog, get the word out! Park Ave from 72nd to the Brooklyn Bridge. No cars. People. Pedestrians. Rollerbladers. Bikes (mostly bikes)! Oh, my!

There's just one more chance to catch it: Next Saturday until 1pm. Next year there will probably be more. It would be hard not to consider Summer Streets a smashing success!

I expected, well, a street without cars. I've been on streets without cars. They're nice. But it's not enough to get my hung-over ass out of bed.

But I got my ass out of bed around 10:30am. Wasn't even hung over.

We got out of the house around 11:30 and at a little before noon we passed the police wooden horses on 61st St at Lex. I'll admit that at this point I got a little excited. Here was whole block (61st between Lex and Park) car free. Better yet, you could see, off in the distance, Park Ave filled with bikes.

It was somehow more exciting that just a street without cars. And I'm pleased to report that everybody was well behaved and there was no problem between bikes and peds. That road it big enough for everybody... as long as there are no cars.

You do have to stop at lights at some of the cross streets. But even this isn't so bad. I ended up biking a lot slower than I normally do because 1) the traffic flow was slower without cars and it's always nicer and safer to go at the same speed as the flow of traffic, and 2) it was such a pleasant ride, what was the rush?

Also, and I think this is important, there was more traffic without cars. I'm sure somebody did a real count, but by my half-assed estimate, in one direction there were about 25 bikes a block. Hours later, when I passed Park Ave again, there were about 6 cars per block. Keeping cars off Park Ave means 4 times as much traffic!

Later, at home looking on the web for pictures, I learned that Park Avenue actually once was a real park. Look how large the median was:
Here's north of Grand Central with St. Bartholomew's on the right.Later they destroyed the park and narrowed the sidewalk to turn 4 lanes into 8. Why not put the Park back in Park Avenue? That's one of the first things we tried to do. It was just a posed picture in what wasn't a particularly nice part of a busy street. But you could really could hear birds chirp. I didn’t know there were birds on Park Ave. It was beautiful.

Meanwhile, after a very pleasant ride downtown, Skate Rat Park under the Brooklyn Bridge was rockin'.
The Waterfalls were falling.
We hopped on a ferry to Governor’s Island and played mini golf with very artsy cool holes. Back at the Governor's Island Ferry Terminal building, David Byrne was letting people make music with a building.

Alas, we couldn't go in the water at beautiful Ferry Terminals Beach
Because of real, live, throbbing, man-eating jellyfish! (not the usual dead kind you might see at Coney Island.)


shishi said...

It is amazing the lack of PR that has been done around this and b/c of work issues I can't make any of them. Hopefully a repeated next year will be better planned and advertised.

megc said...

You did a lot of the same things we did on Saturday! We jogged down Summer Streets, over the Brooklyn Bridge (brunch in Carrol Gardens), then subway to Playing the Building, which was very cool. It was an awesome day.

I hope Summer Streets happens again. Love the Park Avenue archive pix, too. Thanks for sharing!