This morning Mayor Bill de Blasio said the City will, over the next month – May – “create a minimum of 40 miles of open streets” with the goal “to get up to a hundred miles of those open streets,” though that would depend on how long the pandemic lasts.
This announcement cames after the DOT and NYPD officials on Friday failed to articulate any plans or support for opening streets at the City Council hearing on Open Streets legislation, which would mandate opening 75 miles of streets to pedestrians and bicyclists in the city to facilitate safe social distancing. Just about every media outlet had something to say on this, us included.
“So, the city council has been absolutely right to say, let’s keep looking for solutions here and I want to thank them for that. I think it’s been right to say, let’s find a solution that helps open up space, but absolutely keeps people safe, because the first job here is to protect people’s safety”, Mayor conceded.
The current plan focuses first on the streets in and around our parks, that are getting very crowded. Some places will be able to expand sidewalks, and bike lanes – again, focusing on “where the need is greatest, [.. ] where they’ll have the biggest impact, where the most people are,” Mayor said.
The sites will be selected in consultation among the Council, Mayor’s Office, NYPD, DOT.
“I think, assume first and foremost those streets around parks where that natural ability to expand, if you will, the park space and the places where a lot of people are going to be congregating as it gets warmer,” Mayor said. “It’s one part where you’re going to see the most activity, another part where you’re going to see the most need in terms of the health reality. So that’s obviously a lot of the communities that have been afflicted the most.”
Mayor said there will be enforcement and in some places that will mean barricades, in others – working with community partners like BIDs. “If NYPD has a working relationship with an organization and knows that they can rely upon them to manage something, and keep in touch if there’s a problem, that makes sense,” he added.
We’ll report as details are announced about what, where and when will happen in Brooklyn.