After a COVID-canceled summer in 2020, and a truncated two-day reboot last year, Manhattan’s glorious, vehicle-free Summer Streets program is back with a newly expanded route this year, taking over eight miles of Manhattan on August 6th, 13th, and 20th. Here’s everything you need to know about the joyous annual event.
From 7 am to 1 pm, on three consecutive Saturdays, no vehicles are allowed on the continuous eight-mile route up and down the East Side of Manhattan. All parked cars are removed as well, giving plenty of space, at least for six hours, for riding bikes, scooting, running, playing, skating, strolling, bumping into neighbors and friends, taking photos and having a blast. Kids love it, of course, and so does everyone else. The Department of Transportation estimates that some 300,000 people take advantage of Summer Streets each year.
As always, Summer Streets 2022 begins at Foley Square, running up Lafayette Street through Chinatown, Soho and Noho, hitting Fourth Avenue in the East Village, then up Park Avenue South, and Park Avenue proper, starting at Union Square. But rather than stopping at 72nd Street as in the past, this year Summer Streets has been extended up Park Avenue and into East Harlem, ending at 109th Street.
Of course, Summer Streets flows both ways, north and south — to ease congestion at a perennial bottleneck on Lafayette, there’s even a new “SoHo detour” this year, with uptown “traffic” running for one block on Cleveland Place around Petrosino Square — and true heads ride the entire route up and down, or down and up.
Rest stops, entertainment, and activities
There are six rest stops along the route, at Foley Square and Astor Place, and in Rose Hill, Midtown, the Upper East Side, and what they’re calling Uptown, in East Harlem.
The era of inflatable water slides, giant dishwashers, and zip lines appears to be over for now, but at all Summer Streets rest stops you’ll find basic amenities like water stations and port-a-potties, and scattered throughout are free bike rentals and fitness classes, dance parties, art workshops for kids, and rollicking musical performances by the likes of the L Train Brass Band, the samba drumline Fogo Azul and Tilted Axes, which is like a marching band in which everyone plays electric guitars.
This year the DOT has also listed all “open restaurants” on the route, which are defined as places that feature curbside and/or sidewalk seating. And Citi Bike is offering free unlimited-ride day passes on Saturday, August 6th: use the code SUMMER22 in the Citi Bike app to get as many free 30-minute rides as you can take in 24 hours (regular bikes only, no e- bikes).