Just 9 miles of open streets in NYC created as de Blasio, City Council committed to up to 100

Photo by Mark Hallum

Up to two extra miles of streets will be closed to cars and open for pedestrians and cyclists on May 7 as the de Blasio administration continues to facilitate social distancing to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, while reluctant to open streets through the height of the pandemic, announced that the City Council-backed plan for up to 100 miles of open streets would continue a full day after a cyclist was killed on 14th Street on Tuesday.

Broadway between 21st Street and 28th Street in Manhattan will open up with the support of the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership who not only acknowledged the necessity for social distancing space but finding ways for commerce to adapt within the crisis.

“The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership is ready to partner with the City on this important public health service for New Yorkers. An open Broadway will provide New Yorkers much-needed space to walk and bike with room to safely spread out and social distance through the heart of Flatiron and NoMad,” James Mettham, Executive Director of the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership, said. “Additionally, it’s critical that we continue to consider new and creative approaches to business district management and the responsible use of the public realm, like Open Streets, to aid our city’s economic recovery from COVID-19.”
Sections of Broadway below 41st Street and 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens will be closed off and overseen by neighborhood business improvement districts, according to the mayor, as part of the plan to produce 40 miles in May alone.


“[Open streets] is an initiative now ready to go into higher gear,” de Blasio said. “In this case, these are specific sites that are being managed by local [BIDs]… and have taken responsibility to make sure that everything is set up, is monitored and is safe. Of course they’ll work closely with NYPD and the Department of Transportation.”

The previous seven miles established in the city comprised of streets in and around parks announced on May 1.

The announcement for the two new miles of open road, out of a 100-mile goal, follows a crash between a cyclist and an SUV on the west side of 14th Street where the third rider killed in 2020 was a 72-year-old woman.

SUVs account for almost half the cyclist fatalities in 2019 and vehicular traffic has seen reductions of over 90% across the city due to the pandemic, but this has only led to more speeding, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris pointed out.

“As New York fights and emerges from the pandemic, it will be up to the mayor to ensure that we do not return to a transportation system that puts vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians at the mercy of people driving multi-ton vehicles,” Harris said. “We’re seeing the beginning of a transformation taking shape with the ambitious plan to create 100 miles of open streets for physical distancing-compliant movement. It’s a promising step, but in order to emerge stronger than before, we must demand a new paradigm in which streets across the five boroughs prioritize human life above motorized machines.”

Still, de Blasio also promised more open street space is in the works.
Residents now have open streets in the five boroughs, including this one in Park Slope next to Prospect Park, including here on Prospect Park West.(Photo by Todd Maisel)