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Despite fear of spreading COVID-19 through public transit, de Blasio tells New Yorkers to not buy cars

Gridlock Alert days in New York City are designated by the Department of Transportation. Photo Credit: deberarr / iStock

Mayor Bill de Blasio advised New Yorkers to not buy cars during a press conference on Thursday as some continue to worry about the risk of spreading and contracting the novel coronavirus on public transit. 

“Cars are the past, the future is going to be mass transit, biking, walking…I’m never going to own a car again I can tell you that much,” de Blasio told reporters. De Blasio was asked about his opinion on cars by Politico after committing to expanding on the city’s open streets and open restaurant initiatives earlier in the press conference. 

De Blasio called both initiatives “overwhelming successes” and referred to the open streets initiative specifically as a “very good experiment.” Initially, the mayor opposed the idea of closing off streets of vehicular traffic. But after public outcry and criticism from Governor Andrew Cuomo on the number of New York City residents breaking social distancing rules in parks, the mayor launched an open streets pilot program in March. 

The plan was soon scrapped due to “lack of use” said de Blasio and because of gripes from the NYPD claiming the initiative was a drain on department resources. Eventually, the program was reinstated after negotiations with the New York City Council shortly after it introduced a bill outlining its own plan to bring 75-miles of free car space to the city. 

“Any space that we can open up particularly in nicer weather we are going to be working to that but we are also the single biggest city in the country, one of the most densely populated places in the county so we can’t do everything that some places can do,” de Blasio said. 

But some have criticized the city for not properly enforcing the “Open Streets” initiative as drivers repeatedly move or break barricades. A recent report from Transportation Alternatives also argues that the  “Open Streets” plan lacks vision and ambition.  “While pocket parks and outdoor restaurants are helpful, they will not solve our transportation crisis or revive our economy,” the report reads. 

Mayor de Blasio also failed to provide details on the delayed rollout of the Queens Main Street busway stating that the Department of Transportation was attempting to make adjustments to address local community concerns. The DOT recently canceled a community meeting on the busway and de Blasio did not explain what community concerns the city was working towards fixing. 

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