City opens 13 more miles of streets to New Yorkers during Memorial Day weekend

traffic safety
(Photo by Todd Maisel)

Mayor de Blasio announced on Friday that 13 more miles of street space will be closed off to cars this Saturday, May 23 to give more New Yorkers the chance to celebrate Memorial Day outside of their homes and under the sun while keeping socially distant during the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

In March, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he would open 100 miles of streets to pedestrians and cyclists after initially resisting calls to do so from elected officials and transportation activist groups like Transportation Alternatives and Bike New York and deeming his small late-March pilot program a failure.  The open street plan would also include temporary bike lanes and expanded sidewalks, de Blasio said.  

De Blasio eventually came to an agreement with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson to open 40 of those miles in May with the remaining miles to be opened over the following months. The first seven of those 40 miles were closed off to cars on May 1.  Twelve more miles street space and nine miles of protected bike lanes were opened on May 13 bring the total mileage of up open streets 32 not including the nine miles of new temporary bike lanes. 

Nearly nine out of the 13 miles of street space to open Saturday will be managed by local police precincts and 1.8 miles will be managed by local business groups. Despite previous statements that the open streets plan would focus on thoroughfares near parks, only 2.7 of Saturday’s to-be-opened street space are near a city park. 

“This now means that we have more miles of operational open streets, organized, protected, enforced, we now have more than any place in this nation,” said de Blasio during Friday’s daily novel coronavirus press conference. “I should say because we have found a model that works and it’s very, very gratifying to see how everyone has worked together and it’s something that people can enjoy and we are going to keep building on it throughout this crisis.” 

Check out the list of Saturday’s open streets here: