New Yorkers will have more room to sing, dance and play in the streets this summer.
The city’s Department of Transportation announced that more than 25 additional stretches of pavement will be added to the Open Streets program, where certain blocks are periodically closed to cars so that residents can enjoy more outdoor space on foot.
Open Streets began as an experimental initiative during the pandemic, aimed at giving New Yorkers space to safely leave cramped apartments and get some fresh air.
Three years later, it’s become a popular summer tradition and, according to a media statement, the largest program of its kind in the nation. In an Earth Day tweet, the DOT announced that the 2023 Open Streets will feature almost 160 locations spanning nearly 300 city blocks across all five boroughs.
Some of this year’s new applications include 136th Street in Queens, Beck Street in the Bronx, Hudson Boulevard East and West in Manhattan and Troutman Street in Brooklyn, according to an agency press release.
“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. “As we celebrate Earth Week, Open Streets is a shining example of how we can make our streets more vibrant and welcoming by supporting safe and sustainable transportation options.”
Local businesses and community groups can submit applications to add streets to the program through the DOT website. While some streets can be fully closed to vehicles, others remain partly open for limited local access, allowing parking, pick-ups and drop-offs, Access-A-Ride and emergency services. No through traffic is allowed.
A 2022 study commissioned by the DOT shows that Open Streets provide an economic boost for surrounding businesses, and helped many of them get through the darkest days of the pandemic.
Opponents of the program have complained about losing valuable parking spots, and argue that Open Streets inhibit emergency vehicles and hinder residents with limited mobility.
Along with launching new Open Streets, the DOT works with partners like the Horticultural Society of New York to fund and maintain many of the blocks. The agency also announced plans to redesign some of the existing locations to better accommodate pedestrians and cyclists. Berry Street in Brooklyn, West 22nd Street in Manhattan and 34th Avenue in Queens are a few of the streets that can anticipate upgrades this year, according to the press release.
The announcement was made on Saturday when select streets in every borough were open to residents as part of “Car-Free Earth Day.”
A full list of Open Streets, locations and hours can be found at nyc.gov.
Source : https://gothamist.com/news/nyc-dot-announces-expanded-open-streets-program-for-summer-2023