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Mayor to open 12 more miles of streets as New York motorists return

A closed section of Broadway and 23rd Street. (Photo by Mark Hallum)

After open nine miles of roadway last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced 12 additional miles of social distancing space and nine miles of temporary protected bike lanes are coming to four boroughs on Wednesday.

But is it too little too late after weeks of reluctance by de Blasio to take this action called upon by City Council as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo?

After over two months on lockdown and deserted streets, New Yorkers are beginning to observe more vehicles on the road again and data has backed up this claim. Vehicle miles traveled by borough had been reduced from between 78% in the Bronx to about 92% in Manhattan – or 2.83 million miles – as of late April.

Updated data as recent as May 8 shows Manhattan traffic is 88%, equal to about 4.32 million miles driven. For the Bronx vehicle miles driven were at 5.79 million, in Queens motorists covered 11.1 million miles and 9.48 million miles in Brooklyn. The lowest, Staten Island, only saw 3.55 million miles driven.

“Now that warmer weather has arrived, New Yorkers will need more options to enjoy the outdoors at a safe, social distance,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We’re grateful to all our local partners, and we believe new bike lanes will lay the groundwork for a cycling surge in the months and years to come.”

In the Bronx, West 23rd Street in Kingsbridge, 140th Street in Mott Haven, Rhinelander Avenue in Morris Park and Creston Avenue in Fordham Heights would open up. Queens residents will have more space along 34th Street in Jackson Heights, Skillman and 39th Avenues in Sunnyside, 27th and 5th Streets in Long Island City as well as Roosevelt and Peck avenues in Flushing.

Prospect Avenue in Crown Heights and 6th Avenue in Sunset Park will open up also on Thursday.

Governor Andrew Cuomo mandated that the city would need to explore opening streets as a release valve for crowded parks, but de Blasio only opened four roadways in the boroughs before canning the pilot after 11 days on the grounds that it required too much police enforcement.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Councilwoman Carlina Rivera introduced an open streets bill while the former threatened to go to the governor to move the mayor’s hand on opening streets. The next day, de Blasio announced his administration would open 100 miles of roadway.

Under this plan the open streets would be overseen by neighborhood business improvement districts.

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