Today’s NY Sun reports that Mayor Bloomberg is expected to announce his next brain storm for NYC at an event on Monday afternoon.
The Sun says that Bloomberg will propose closing a five-mile stretch of road to automobiles – running from Lower Manhattan to Central Park. The closure will last three days in August, as part of a city Department of transportation program that, if successful, could lead to regular street closings.
The proposal is intended to provide New Yorkers and visitors with a safe place to jog, stroll, and ride without the congestion normally associated with the city’s streets. The car-free zone will run from the start of Centre Street in Lower Manhattan to 72nd Street on the Upper East Side by way of Lafayette Street, Fourth Avenue, and Park Avenue, and it will be closed between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. on three consecutive Saturdays: August 9, August 16, and August 23.
But while the plan is intended to accommodate residents, some fear that, even on a weekend, the toll on businesses will be higher than the value gained.
A source familiar with the project said the concept is loosely based on a common practice in some European cities, where main thoroughfares are closed periodically for pedestrian and bicycle access.
Certain interactive activities, including yoga, could be permitted in the public space in New York, the source said, but planners want to avoid a “funnel cake” carnival atmosphere that is common in many of the city’s street fairs. Vendors must be licensed and would be restricted to selling on the sidewalks along the route.
Orthodox Jews do not drive on Saturdays, so they would be unaffected. And many Manhattanites with country homes leave on Friday afternoons and do not return until Sunday night or Monday morning, so they may not even notice the Saturday street closures.
While at first there was some concern that the police department would not approve the event, Commissioner Raymond Kelly is said to approve of the proposal, according to a source familiar with the plan. Closing the 5-mile stretch of roads requires a lot of manpower to cordon off hundreds of side streets and direct traffic on crosstown thoroughfares.
(Source: NY Sun)