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DOT Announces Summer Streets 2012 with Free Zip Line in Union Square

By Mary Johnson | June 12, 2012 1:42pm
The zip liners were treated to a bird's eye view of Union Square as they traveled the 160 feet.
The zip liners were treated to a bird's eye view of Union Square as they traveled the 160 feet.
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DNAinfo/Mary Johnson

UNION SQUARE — New Yorkers whizzing across Union Square is nothing new.

But on Tuesday morning, dozens decided to make that trek via a 160-foot-long zip line.

The zip line, which offered free, sky-high rides across the north side of Union Square park until noon on Tuesday, was set up to provide a taste of the fifth annual Summer Streets festivities, which will close nearly seven miles of Manhattan streets to traffic for three Saturdays this August so that pedestrians can reclaim the roadways.

The zip line will be part of Summer Streets, which will also feature a 25-foot climbing wall, free bike and rollerblade rentals and free bike helmet fittings, among other activities.

"It's a terrific way to see the city in a whole new way," said Janette Sadik-Khan, commissioner of the Department of Transportation, at a press conference next to the zip line.

Sadik-Khan said she too had given the zip line a test drive — twice — earlier in the morning.

"You don't need a cup of coffee," she said of her exhilarating rides. "Just start the day with a zip line."

Summer Streets will shut down Park Avenue and several connecting streets between Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Aug. 4, 11 and 18, Sadik-Khan said.

A map of the entire route is accessible online.

For vehicles, that means street closures will begin at 6 a.m. and will extend until 1:30 p.m. on all three Saturdays.

There will also be no parking on the affected streets beginning at 11 p.m. the Friday before each event and will continue until 2 p.m. the following Saturday.

Specific information regarding street closures and parking bans will be posted on the DOT's website closer to the start of Summer Streets 2012.

"The streets belong to you and all New Yorkers, and everyone is invited," Sadik-Khan said.

New Yorkers got a chance to sample what's to come on Tuesday with free trips down the mobile zip line set up in Union Square.

Aaron Benor, 30, said his ride on Tuesday was not his first ever on a zip line, but certainly his first in New York City.

"I loved it," said Benor, who lives in Carroll Gardens. "I think they should have them from building rooftops to public parks."

Tobias McGuigan smiled as he was unhooked from the zip line and said the ride was nothing to be afraid of.

"It's higher than it looks when you get up there, but it's not very fast," McGuigan explained. "That was fun."

Sophia Taylor stood in line for awhile with her 6-year-old daughter, Neveah, with every intention of making the zip line a mother-daughter experience.

"This is my first time ever being on anything this high," said Taylor, who lives in East New York.

But, she added looking down at her daughter, "I'm not going to let her show me up."

Neveah too had no fear as she approached the front of the line, but the pair ultimately couldn't ride because the little girl was too light for the 60-pound minimum weight requirement.

Six-year-old Jared, however, made the weight cut and bravely rode the zip line all by himself as his mother suited up in a harness of her own.

A man of few words, Jared simply smiled shyly and nodded his head when asked if his ride was fun.