New York City. We've got traffic. So much traffic.
All of that traffic, not surprisingly, makes it insanely annoying to bike/walk/run through the city. It takes about 20 city blocks to go 1 full mile, and if you're stopping every 200 feet, you're going to be stopping and going a lot. I don’t know about everyone else, but that constant stop and go is irritating that it makes me not even want to run. Whenever I do run in the city, I'm either in Central Park (no car traffic) or on the streets really early in the morning before most people wake up.
Fortunately, the good people at The Department of Transportation decided that everyone should have access to the road. Enter Summer Streets. First introduced in 2008, Summer Streets offers everyone use of Park Avenue from Central Park to the Brooklyn Bridge from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Along the way are 6 rest stops, where participants can do everything from sample food and rent bikes to ride an inflatable water slide and practice their rock climbing skills.
Summer Streets is held for three consecutive Saturdays during August. Unfortunately, this means that the event is already over for this year. I really wanted to go and do a post about it so that you could take advantage of it all, but c’est la vie. Life seemed to get in the way the first two Saturdays, so we’ll just make this post a suggestion to go next year.
Anyway, I’ve been training for the Marine Corps Marathon in October. This means lots of running. Lots of running. Summer Streets gave me the perfect chance to get my miles in without having to run the same route over and over, plus the rest stops along the way would be good for refueling and filling up my water bottles.
I started off my run at Queens Plaza before heading up and over the Queensboro Bridge and crossing over to Park Avenue. I took off down Park Avenue and…still had to stop for lights.
Yes, Summer Streets isn’t a “perfect” escape from traffic, as there are still stops for crosstown traffic. But, I mean, you really can’t beat having complete access to nearly seven miles of open streets through the greatest city in the world. Once you run past the MetLife Building, the lights ease up, and the stops are way less frequent.
As anyone running for a crazy long time will tell you, finding ways to make the miles go by is key to getting through without dying of boredom. If running/biking through New York City wasn’t cool enough, Summer Streets has plenty to look at. I’ll admit I stopped more than I wanted to just to get some pictures of everything set up.
I made it down to the Brooklyn Bridge before turning around to finish my run. Since I started so early, the roads weren’t overly crowded yet. The organizers of Summer Streets did a great job with keeping traffic flowing. Signs are posted everywhere, and there are police officers and course marshals to make sure everyone know when to stop for crosstown traffic.
This year Summer Streets also had a water slide set up. I wasn’t able to participate, but it was tempting to just skip out on the last few miles of my run to slide down…
After finishing (10 miles total), I walked the streets for a little more to check out all of the action. One of the rest stops had a cooking demonstration set up to teach people more about healthy eating ideas.
Whether you like to run, bike, or just walk around, I definitely recommend adding Summer Streets to your NYC Bucket List. The city releases a schedule of events during July, so keep an eye out next year to be the first to hear about all of the things to do!