My husband Rob Stuart and I went to NYC yesterday to ride in Summer Streets because we can't make it to next Saturday's tour being led by the Bike Coalition's Advocacy Director John Boyle. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and it made me hankering for car-free Philly streets in the upcoming Commerce Bank Bike Philly Ride on September 14th. There's something about riding on empty streets that is exhilerating and liberating all at the same time. I highly recommend going up to NYC next weekend with John.
The route is easy; we started at City Hall, up Lafayette Street, past Chinatown, Astor Place, Union Square to Park Avenue South, up to the viaduct around Grand Central Station (terrific views of the Chrysler Building, 42nd Street and a great photo spot) through the tunnel to Park Avenue (don't miss the free lemonade served by St. Bart's minister) to 72nd Street with a direct feed into Central Park. Up and back takes 2 hours with stops. Lots of cops and marshalls, we never felt unsafe or at risk. There's plenty to drink, but no port-a-potties. We bumped into Dani Simons, the NYCDOT staffer who organized the event, Noah Budnick, Deputy Director of Transportation Alternatives and met Oscar Diaz from Bogota who is consulting with NYCDOT on Summer Streets given his experience with Cyclovia.
(Click on this photo to see more posted the Bike Coalition Flickr site)
If you have the energy, you can also "Bike the Falls" to see the very cool waterfalls by Olaf Eliasson, take a free ferry ride to Governor's Island (awesome views of lower Manhattan), see David Byrne's playing the building installation next door to the ferry terminal, ride up Hudson River Park, check out the separated bike lane experiment on 9th Avenue and 16st Street and the new traffic calming at Times Square. Probably all too much to pack into one day, but there's no doubt that NYC has a lot for a bicycle tourist to see.
As a former NYC resident (1980s), it's mind boggling to see what NYC has done to its streets and riverfronts. Clearly, NYC is a testament to what can be done with political will (Mayor Bloomberg), competent leadership in city government (NYCDOT Commissioner Sadik-Kahn) and an energized bicycling public. I'm anxious to have Philadelphia get its "legs" and do the same.