The COVID Crisis: Mayor de Blasio And Speaker Johnson Announce Plans To Implement Miles Of Safe Streets

April 27, 2020

As the weather gets warmer and New York City’s fight against COVID-19 stretches into the summer, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Corey Johnson today announced plans to implement at least 40 miles of street closures.

The closures also includes sidewalk widening, and additional bike lanes over the next month – with a goal of implementing 100 miles, focusing on communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

The open streets will be sourced from five broad categories: up to 60 miles of streets within and adjacent to parks; up to 20 miles of streets identified in consultation with local precincts, in consultation with Community Boards and other partners; up to 10 miles of streets managed by local partners such as BIDs, block associations, or other civic groups; up to 2.5 miles of widened sidewalks; and up to 10 miles of protected bike lanes.

“This summer is going to look different from any other in our city’s history – and we’re ready to give New Yorkers more ways to leave home while staying safe from COVID-19,” said Mayor de Bill Blasio. “I’m proud to work with Speaker Johnson, the Department of Transportation, and the NYPD to find creative solutions that support our broader goals of ending this pandemic and rebuilding a fairer city.”

“The Council is thrilled our calls for open streets have been answered and looks forward to working with the administration to give New Yorkers the space they need to socially distance properly,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “As the weather gets nicer and this unprecedented crisis stretches on longer, we need to do everything in our power to keep our neighbors safe and healthy. This announcement is a great starting point for the ongoing conversation about how we share our public spaces during this pandemic and in a post-coronavirus future.”

Open streets will only be in effect for the duration of “NY PAUSE,” with the exception of bike lanes. Conversations with communities and local stakeholders will take place in the coming weeks.

“We thank the Mayor and the Council for this exciting agreement to open up to 100 miles of our City streets for outdoor activity, especially in the communities most impacted by COVID-19,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “DOT looks forward to working with the City Council, our sister agencies — NYPD, Parks and Citywide Event Coordination and Management— and local BIDs and community groups to open our streets up and create more critical cycling routes.”

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“These unprecedented times require us to think outside of the box, to be creative with how we look at and utilize the public realm,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “The additional open space that this plan will provide by way of our parks, their perimeters and so much more, will go a long way at helping New Yorkers socially distance and ensuring our city’s stay safety and health.”

“Throughout the year, New Yorkers use their streets as a venue for celebration, commemoration and recreation, and now these spaces will be available for our communities to safely access much needed fresh air and movement. We look forward to working with BIDS, community boards, and other community partners to provide New Yorkers with an opportunity to enjoy their city during these challenging times,” said Ellyn Canfield, Executive Director, Citywide Events Coordination and Management.

“I want to thank Mayor de Blasio, DOT, and the NYPD for working with Speaker Johnson and I after our Friday hearing on an open streets plan that we can hit the ground running with this week. This initial span of 40 miles of open streets and the 100 eventual miles that will be created will provide the space for essential workers to pursue safer commuting options, provide outdoor opportunities for vulnerable New Yorkers, and give families the chance to play beyond the four walls of their home.

This is just a first step, and once successfully implemented I look forward to working further with the Mayor’s Office on open streets and other social distancing measures we can undertake to protect all communities and help keep COVID-19 rates low,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera.

Photo credit: Rudy Collins.

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