For 362 days a year, the only game you can play on NYC’s busy streets is Dodge the Delivery Guy. But on the three brief but highly anticipated days each summer when the city shuts down seven miles of NYC streets to vehicle traffic, residents and visitors alike revel in riding bikes, rock climbing, and even zipping along wires within view of New York’s most iconic landmarks. (Take that, harried commuters!).
This Saturday (August 18) is your last chance to enjoy New York in this totally unique way — at the walking/biking-tour-meets-block-party known as NYC’s Summer Streets Festival. Modeled on similar events around the world, such as the “Paris Plage,” the event invites people to get off the sidewalk and experience the city in a whole new way.
Starting at 7 a.m., Park Avenue and connecting streets will be closed to vehicles from the Brooklyn Bridge all the way uptown to Central Park. Free activities include everything from Tai Chi classes and Bachata lessons at the Uptown Rest Stop (Park Avenue and 51st Street) to the REI Adventure Zone, which includes a rock climbing wall, in SoHo. As for that zip line, head to the Foley Square Rest Stop, at Duane and Worth Streets in Tribeca. The zip line is free, and is first-come-first-served. And if you don’t know how to ride a bike, there are even free classes for those challenged atop two wheels. Performances throughout the day include Double Dutch skipping by the National Double Dutch League, teasers from the New York Fringe Theater Festival, and Ecuadorian Dance.
And for those residents or visitors who don’t have a bike, NYC’s Bike and Roll offers complimentary rentals for the Summer Streets Festival. So you can pedal on over to Park Avenue, and then point your handlebars in the direction of downtown to join the throngs of eco-friendly adventurers. (In 2011, more than 250,000 people participated in Summer Streets, and we expect even more are doing so this year!).
There are plenty of easy side travel options on low-traffic streets to the Hudson River Greenway (Bike and Roll rental kiosks are located there, at Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan, Riverside Park on the Upper West Side, and in Central Park), Harlem, Brooklyn and Governors Island, so you can plan your day around biking the city.
But be warned: Summer Streets wraps up at 1 p.m. So get out there early if you don’t want to miss the chance to take a leisurely ride right down the middle of NYC’s historic streets.
What sport would you find most fitting to play on an empty street in NYC?