dumpsterpoolThere are countless reasons to love New York, and probably just as many to hate it (note to lady who tried to run me over this morning: would it have killed you to respect my walk signal?) but one of the things that makes me happiest is the Summer Streets program.

This is the third year where NYC streets have been closed for three consecutive Saturdays – the last one is coming up, August 21. From the Brooklyn Bridge, all the way up Park Avenue to 72nd Street, there is only bicycle, foot, scooter and roller blade traffic.

If you don’t have a bike or blades, you can borrow them, free, and if you don’t have a helmet, you can get a free one to keep – and a warning to use it when you ride in traffic.

Last Saturday, my husband and I rode up to Central Park, then into the Bronx and along a gorgeous path on the Bronx River Parkway to Scarsdale, a 35 or 36 mile ride (we made a couple of wrong turns, using Google maps beta bike directions) on folding bikes. We were getting our youngest daughter, Nora, from the camp bus, and we borrowed a car to bring her back to Brooklyn (and bring the bikes back). Turns out 35 miles on those tiny clown wheels can be a bit challenging.

We did stop for a free yoga class on 25th Street, and we peeked in the dumpster pools near Grand Central. You can valet park your bike (again, free) so you can do the other activities. This year there was also a picnic area, sponsored by Whole Foods, with lots of free food, sidewalk chalk and free bike repair.

This weekend, we will ride with Nora so we can swim, play tennis, maybe take a Salsa class – all on the streets of New York. If you can’t make it this year, put this on your calendar for next summer.