Marathon Route Park


One Sunday a year 26 odd miles of New York City streets are cleared of cars, parked and otherwise, for the marathon. This route, which in many respects privileges the ecological over the economical, becomes an urban park of sorts, if only for a few hours. At the end of the day, however, this quasi-utopian space is abandoned to the dystopian reality of our exploitative, ecocidal culture. But what if cars weren’t allowed to return? What if the streets remained car-free? Among other things, this would pave the way for the creation of a Marathon Route Park (MRP). 

Stretching through the five boroughs, the park would have countless benefits. And, let’s be honest, it would also inconvenience a few people. But, if we’re serious about being honest, wouldn’t it be good to inconvenience a way of life that’s not only killing 30-40,000 people a year directly in the streets of the US alone via car crash, and countless others globally via air pollution, resource wars, habitat destruction, global warming, and other ravenous extensions of our “way of life”? 

Even though it would contribute to cleaner air, quieter spaces and healthier lives generally, drivers and businesspeople will certainly find the implementation of a marathon route park upsetting. But why do those who prefer to contribute to the advancement of global warming (which, if you haven’t been paying attention, is burning, flooding and otherwise wrecking the habitable earth) be regarded as reasonable people at all? 

In building a salutary society, one in which the anachronistic, ecocidal technology of cars is banished for good, we should consider, as a modest step in this direction, building Marathon Route Park (in New York City, and every other city across the globe that hosts a marathon). We have nothing to lose but our diseases — and our traffic. 

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Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and adjunct professor. He lives in New York City and can be reached at and on twitter @elliot_sperber.