NYC Expands Nation Leading Open Streets Program With More Miles In Areas Hit Hard By The COVID Crisis

Mayor Bill de Blasio today added another 23 miles to New York City’s nation-leading Open Streets program, bringing the citywide total to 67 miles – two-thirds of the way to the 100-mile goal laid out in late April. The new Open Streets, which are located primarily in neighborhoods hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, include nine miles of temporary protected bike lanes.

The Administration is also prioritizing the most heat burdened communities with plans to designate certain Open Streets as “Cool Streets.” The City will open up blocks with tree-based shade and hydrants as part of DEP’s Cool Hydrant and spray cap program. The first set of “Cool Streets will be announced in the coming days.

“As the school year ends and a hot, challenging summer begins, New Yorkers will need more options to play outside,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “New York City now offers more car-free street space than any other city in the country, and we’re proud to build on that progress in all five boroughs.”

Google has added the previous 40-plus miles of Open Streets into Google Maps, allowing drivers using online navigation to steer clear of these streets; today’s new Open Streets will also be added to Google Maps in the coming days.

The nine new miles of bike corridors, like the first nine miles of temporary lanes announced in May, will be phased in throughout the summer using markings, barrels, signage, and other barriers, to implement both permanent and temporary projects along with critical connectors from already-established protected lanes. During the rollout of these bike lanes, DOT will also be implementing new Green Wave signal timing changes on DeKalb and Lafayette Avenues in Brooklyn, in addition to existing Green Wave corridors to help speed bike commutes.

“With summer now in full swing, and the City slowly reopening, we’re excited to bring new Open Streets to more communities, from the North Shore of Staten Island to Far Rockaway in Queens, along with new protected bike connections to Central Park and the Queensboro Bridge,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “Thanks to the hard work of Mayor de Blasio, our sister agencies, BIDs and other community groups, Open Streets continues to grow, helping more New Yorkers who’ve been cooped up for so long get out and keep moving while maintaining social distancing.”

“The Open Streets Program has been a huge success for our residents in Jackson Heights, allowing neighbors of all ages to walk, bike, play or just sit outside for some fresh air with plenty of room to social distance and without worries of car traffic. We’re grateful to have this program expand so that more New Yorkers can enjoy being outside as our city re-opens,” said State Senator Jessica Ramos.

“Families for Safe Streets is grateful to the Department of Transportation for expanding the open streets program. Creating more space for people means increased safety and a less stressful environment. We look forward to working with DOT in implementing and further expanding this program, making us the city with the most open streets per square mile in the world,” said Rhondelle Booker, member of Families for Safe Streets and sister of Hermanda Booker, beloved special education teacher killed at age 29, on her way to school.

“BGI is thrilled to be working with local community members to provide more space along the Greenway and better access to the waterfront,” said Terri Carta Executive Director, Brooklyn Greenway Initiative.

“We’re pleased to see that the City continues to move forward with more miles of open streets in all five boroughs, and especially into neighborhoods that have been especially hard-hit by the pandemic,” said Danny Harris, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “We applaud the Department of Transportation for adding more temporary protected bike lanes, and we’re eager to work together to turn these temporary lanes into permanent infrastructure for New Yorkers who bike.”

“We’re excited to partner with the city on expanding the Open Streets program in Downtown Brooklyn,” said Regina Myer, president of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “As New Yorkers return to our commercial corridors, the additional space is vital to public safety and the successful reopening of our city. This plan paves the way for more people to bike, walk and safely spend time outdoors at a vital moment for our small businesses and local economy.”

“Today’s announcement represents one more step toward an equitable recovery from COVID and the fairer city we need more than ever. Rededicating our streets for people complements our transit system, easing crowding, and making travel safer for subway, bus, and paratransit riders. More open streets, bike lanes, and bus lanes together help clear the air and put New Yorkers first in our shared public space. The Riders Alliance thanks the hardworking people at DOT for moving these important projects forward in difficult circumstances,” said Betsy Plum, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance.

“As the impact of coronavirus reverberates well past our city’s peak, it’s important to continue physical distancing and mask compliance. To help make distancing easier, we’re glad to see DOT and City Hall continue to roll out Open Streets that allow New Yorkers to safely enjoy the outdoors protected from cars. Open Streets, new bus and bike lanes, and outdoor dining are critical tools to keep New Yorkers safe and moving as we reopen our city,” said Nick Sifuentes, Executive Director, Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

“We applaud the NYC Department of Transportation for moving forward on this plan and focusing more attention to neighborhoods most affected by COVID. More open streets and protected bicycle lanes will provide needed public space and safer, healthy transportation options and help New Yorkers get outside safely during the summer months. We hope the city will use our vision for a connected, arterial Five Borough Bikeway to continue to expand protected cycling, during COVID recovery and in the longer term,” said Tom Wright, CEO and President of Regional Plan Association.

In April, the Mayor and Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced that 40 miles of streets citywide would be opened by the end of May to allow greater social distancing, with a plan to expand to a total of 100 miles in the weeks and months ahead. The City exceeded its 40-mile target last month.

Under Open Streets, pedestrians and cyclists are free to use the roadbed of each street. No through traffic is permitted, with remaining vehicle traffic limited to local deliveries, pick-ups/drop-offs, necessary city service, utility, and emergency vehicles only. Such drivers are alerted to be hyper-vigilant and to drive at 5 MPH along these routes. Open streets hours will be from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM but may vary slightly depending on staff availability.

Organizations wishing to have other New York City streets considered for the Open Streets program should reach out to fill out an online survey. More information is available at nyc.gov/openstreets.

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