Juan Valdez and Jay-Z Invite New Yorkers to Take to the Streets

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The City's official Summer Streets web site and press release hit our inbox this morning. Jay-Z is joining Mayor Bloomberg and DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan in inviting New Yorkers to hit seven miles worth of car-free streets in Manhattan this Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bringing it back full circle to Bogotá's Ciclovia, Juan Valdez 100% Colombian coffee is going in as a sponsor.

As in Bogotá and Paris, it looks like the City is making a serious effort to program the event. Organized activities will include bike classes for kids and adults, aikido, salsa dancing, tai-chi, running, rollerblading and hopscotch. Bloomberg is pitching the event as a test run. "We're going to embark on a grand experiment that could dramatically alter the way we use and look at the streets of New York," Bloomberg said in the City's press release. "If the program works, we'll strongly consider doing it again; maybe we'll try it in other parts of the city. If it doesn't work, we won't, but we can't be afraid to find out."

And on that note, let the bitching and moaning about imaginary traffic tie-ups, lack of community input, hidden real estate developer agendas and hippy/yuppie cyclists commence!

There are lots more details, including locations of rest stops, events and free bike helmet give-aways in the City's presser...

MAYOR BLOOMBERG, DOT COMMISSIONER SADIK-KHAN AND JAY-Z INVITE NEW YORKERS TO TAKE TO THE STREETS FOR SUMMER STREETS

Starting Saturday, Activities From Dance to Hopscotch Available from Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter today invited New Yorkers from across the five boroughs to take their fun to the streets on three Saturdays this month during Summer Streets. For the next three Saturdays, August 9th, 16th and 23rd, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., vehicle traffic will be replaced along seven miles of City streets by New Yorkers and visitors taking leisurely strolls, going for a bike ride or taking part in organized activities such as aikido, salsa dancing, tai-chi, running, rollerblading and hopscotch. Summer Streets will be open from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park along Lafayette Street, 4th Avenue, Park Avenue and 72nd Street.

"We're going to embark on a grand experiment that could dramatically alter the way we use and look at the streets of New York," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Streets that are normally tied up with cars and trucks will be turned over to the public - so that we can experience this city as never before. If the program works, we'll strongly consider doing it again; maybe we'll try it in other parts of the city. If it doesn't work, we won't, but we can't be afraid to find out."

"We're inviting New Yorkers and visitors to come out and enjoy the City by foot or by bike, and for a few hours, allow people to enjoy it free of vehicles," said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. "Come out and move around, people watch, or just enjoy your morning coffee without the stress of noise and traffic. Enjoy the streets you've been up and down 100 times before, in a whole new way."

Organized activities and other attractions will take place throughout the route. DOT will provide free bike helmets at 24th Street for adults and children from 9 a.m. to noon, as supplies last. New York Road Runners will be leading running groups for all ages and ability levels, and Bike New York will be holding bike riding classes for children and adults. Three rest stops will be located along the route in addition to a main stage at 24th Street, which will feature music performances and other programs. The rest stops, located at Spring, 24th and 51st streets, will also feature art, fitness, dance and cultural activities. These activities can be enjoyed by New Yorkers of all ages, fitness and skill levels. In addition to planned activities, all of the rest stops will have water stations, bike maps and first aid stations. Participants are encouraged to bring their own fitness mats and water bottles, which can be refilled at the water stations. Additional activities will also be held close to the rest stops and emergency services will be present along the length of the route.

Activities are diverse and each rest stop includes a full schedule. For instance, the downtown rest stop at Spring Street will include an aikido class beginning at 10 a.m. while the uptown rest stop will feature a cha-cha class in that time slot. Program schedules will run from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.

There will be opportunities to rent or test ride bikes along the route. And for people who come with bikes there will be bike repair provided at each rest stop to ensure everyone can keep rolling along smoothly. Bicycle Habitat will be providing bike repair along the route, and bike sharing will be provided by Bike and Roll. Bike New York and the 5 Boro Bike Club will be leading classes and sharing tips about how to ride safely in New York City.

The City has developed a plan to redirect traffic while ensuring that traffic will flow on nearby streets and emergency vehicles will have unfettered access to the Summer Streets. Residents on streets adjoining the route will have local access and be able to receive deliveries during Summer Streets hours. Working with the Mayor's Community Assistance Unit, DOT has conducted an extensive community outreach operation to inform and educate the public, and address any potential concerns.

Summer Streets has been made possible with the help of sponsors including Crunch, Juan Valdez/100% Colombian Coffee, RCN, Bicycle Habitat and media partners that include Metro, WCBS TV and WABC radio. More information on Summer Streets, including a full list of activities is available at www.nyc.gov.