Sep 8, 201309:00 AMPoint of View
Returning Streets to People
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Golden Gate Park benefits from an increase in visitors that are drawn there by car-free JFK Drive on Sundays.
Similarly, in New York City, Mayor Bloomberg temporarily shut down vehicular access to a street extending through Central Park. It experienced such a success that after six months, the pedestrian- and bike-only mandate was extended indefinitely. In another example, on three separate Saturdays, seven miles of streets—stretching from the Brooklyn Bridge up to Central Park along Park Avenue—were closed to cars and opened to the public. Reports indicate that 250,000 people enjoyed live music, fitness classes, rock climbing, and an interactive sound and light installation in the Park Avenue tunnel (which had long waiting lines).
New York’s Summer Streets events transformed the Park Avenue tunnel into a car-free experience in light and sound.
Cities have become urban-design testing grounds for new types of public space and planning. Pop-up car-free zones range from small-scale parklets (San Francisco’s parklet program) to a one- to two-block interventions like the Sunset Triangle in Los Angeles. Temporary street closures like farmer’s markets, neighborhood concerts, and CicLAvia have helped Los Angeles prove that even in a car-central, car-free zones work. CicLAvia originated from the “Ciclovia,” event in Bogota, Columbia, during which major city streets are closed temporarily and opened to cyclists and the public. Los Angeles has held five CicLAvia events in the last three years, and each time saw increased participation from street vendors, performers, and the public. LA is also experimenting with different scaled street closures – in April 2013, CicLAvia closed approximately 15 miles of streets, from City Hall to the ocean, and attracted more than 100,000 cyclists.
5 Tips for Going Car-Free
Permanent or temporary, success in car-free zones is hardly a guarantee. Going car free requires a delicate balance of five essential ingredients: