City announces 25 new Open Streets across the city for Earth Day

Students and parents enjoying car-free streets
Courtesy of Open Plans and Transportation Alternatives.

This year’s Open Streets program will include 25 new stretches across the city, the city’s Department of Transportation announced on Earth Day.

Open Streets began as a pandemic-era experiment but have quickly become a summer tradition, with streets periodically closed off to car traffic so they can be enjoyed by residents on foot.

The program kicks off this year with 160 locations across the five boroughs, spanning some 300 city blocks, according to DOT. Local business and community groups have submitted applications to DOT for dozens more streets to be opened up, which the agency is reviewing with the hope of launching additional spots by July.

DOT will also construct upgrades on some existing Open Streets, including popular spots like Brooklyn’s Vanderbilt Avenue and Queens’ 34th Avenue, to place more priority on pedestrians and cyclists, with the hope they might negate the need for metal barriers protecting the streets from cars.

“Spring has sprung — and I invite New Yorkers to celebrate the warm weather on our collective front yard: our streets,” said DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez in a statement. “We’re thrilled to continue building on the success of the Open Streets program, both with the launch of new sites across the City and through the permanent upgrades to existing locations.”

The program, launched to provide open space for locked-down New Yorkers at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been praised by some for repurposing streets from cars, and studies have shown positive economic impacts to businesses on the open stretches of roadway. Detractors have bemoaned the loss of parking spots and argue Open Streets are unacceptable hindrances for emergency services, as well as seniors and other residents with limited mobility.

The new Open Streets were announced as the city celebrated “Car-Free Earth Day,” with varied programming devoted to Mother Earth along streets closed off to cars.

For a full list of new Open Street locations, including geography and hours, visit nyc.gov.