March 23, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Transportation advocates are asking the City to close off specific streets across the city to traffic, so that pedestrians have more space to practice safe distancing from one amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The calls follow a suggestion by Governor Andrew Cuomo to open New York City streets to pedestrians. On Sunday, the governor asked Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson to come up with a plan to keep defiant New Yorkers from gathering together in city parks.
“You have much less traffic in New York City because non-essential workers aren’t going to work,” Cuomo said. “Get creative: Open streets to reduce the density. You want to go for a walk? God bless you. You want to go for a run? God bless you.”
“But let’s open streets, let’s open spaces. That’s where people should be,” Cuomo added.
Transportation Alternatives and Bike New York agreed with Cuomo’s suggestion and provided specific streets where vehicles could be temporarily banned.
“There is a wealth of street space in the five boroughs that could be converted into social distancing-friendly places for people,” Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris and Bike New York Director of Communications Jon Orcutt said in a joint statement.
The streets lack directly adjacent commercial or residential land uses, proving to be straightforward options, the groups said.
The group also suggested closing streets around hospitals to all cars other than emergency vehicles and hospital staff as well as streets routinely closed for the city’s Summer Streets and street fairs.
De Blasio and Johnson were given 24 hours to come up with a plan and are expected to outline that plan today.
However, de Blasio said the City will not be shutting down streets to car traffic on Pix11 this morning.
“We’re presenting a plan today,” de Blasio said. “We are not going to [do] the street shutdown in the first place. We’re sticking with the parks we have, the places where people go because we know how to patrol those places and enforce.”