NYC to designate at least 40 miles of streets for pedestrians only

Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City will close 40 miles of streets to cars next month and up to 100 miles during the duration of the COVID-19 crisis in order to give pedestrians more room to move while maintaining social distancing.

"During this crisis the goal is to get up to 100 miles of those open streets," said de Blasio, who had earlier resisted calls from advocates for pedestrians and cyclists to close off large swaths of roadways to cars.

De Blasio said an early focus of the plan will be streets near parks, since people are already gathering there. He said he is working out details with the City Council, which passed a bill last week to require the city's transportation department to close up to 75 miles of streets to cars.

Short stretches of four streets were closed to cars during a pilot program that started in March and ended after less than two weeks.

De Blasio had said earlier that New York was "profoundly different" from cities like Oakland and Minneapolis that have opened up miles of streets to pedestrians during the pandemic, arguing that keeping cars off streets that are designated for walking would require too much police manpower.


A low-angle view of a crosswalk and road in NYC

An intersection in Queens, N.Y. (FOX 5 NY photo)



"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. 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." —Mayor Bill de Blasio

"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. 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." —Council Speaker Corey Johnson

"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. 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." —Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg

"These unprecedented times require us to think outside of the box, to be creative with how we look at and utilize the public realm. 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." —Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver

>Gov. Cuomo outlines lifting restrictions in parts of NY


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