Summer Streets, the Department of Transportation’s wildly popular annual car-free pop-up events, were sadly cancelled last summer because of the pandemic (though at least we got the advent of Open Streets in lieu of them). But the DOT announced on Friday that Summer Streets will return for its thirteenth iteration for two glorious weekends in August.
This year’s edition will take place on Saturdays, August 7th and 14th, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., along Park Avenue, Lafayette, and Centre Streets, for a total of seven miles of car-free streets. DOT adds that they will “once again curate a great roster of fun and free activities along this car-free route.”
In 2019, nearly 300,000 people—cyclists, runners, skaters, strollers, little kids, scooters, dogs, and people who don’t have fun identifying descriptors—enjoyed the open streets. There was a 165-foot long, 30-foot high zip line at Foley Square, group yoga, musical performances, corporate-sponsored giveaways, free bike helmets, and Vision Zero safety information.
In the early months of the pandemic, the Open Streets program was started to give cooped up New Yorkers extra space outdoors while remaining socially distanced. As the summer went on, the program flourished and nearly 70 miles of streets were opened up (though it was not uniformly perfect, with drivers removing barriers in some locations). Then this spring, the city passed legislation to allow the existing 235 Open Streets locations to use curbside parking spots for programming, and give them the option to keep the streets closed to through traffic 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, the DOT will be responsible for adding and maintaining 20 Open Streets locations in areas “underserved” by the program.
All the Democratic mayoral candidates told Gothamist they were committed to keeping and expanding the program as well.