COVID-19; Social Distancing; Open Streets; Prospect Park
Open streets are to return while NYC officials give up some streets back to traffic. Photo Credit: FLICKR

On Friday, City Hall pulled two Brooklyn streets surrounding  Prospect Park from the popular Open Streets program, reports the New York Post. 

The move will allow cars to once again drive along Prospect Park West from Garfield to Third streets and on Parkside Avenue from Park Circle to Ocean Avenue.

To increase opportunities for social distancing amidst the pandemic, city officials had originally converted side streets for pedestrian and bike use during the daytime, following a chorus of complaints that crowding within the park made distancing difficult.

The de Blasio administration pushed to reopen streets to traffic due to the low utilization along those corridors. However, they acknowledged that the New York Department of Transportation has no way to track how often open streets were being used.

City Hall also claims to have consulted local elected officials and community leaders, but did not attempt to respond to questions posed by reporters.

“Every new program offers chances to track progress and establish best practices,” said Hizzoner’s spokesman, Mitch Schwartz. “Our Open Streets program is the biggest and farthest-reaching in the country, and removing a few streets that haven’t been heavily used – while continuing to add more in other parts of the city – won’t change that.”

All told, the Transportation program took away 2.8 miles of open streets, just as officials announced plans to add 1.7 miles of street to the program across all five boroughs.

The two stretches of open streets were among eight axed from the pedestrianization program and reopened to traffic. The others include:

  • The Bronx’s Louis Nine Boulevard from Intervale Avenue to Southern Boulevard
  • Brooklyn’s East 7th Street from Canton Street to Ditmas Avenue
  • Queens’s Center Boulevard from 57th to Borden avenues, 27th Street from 43rd Avenue to Queens Plaza North and 85th street from 25th to 30th Avenues
  • Manhattan’s East 29th Street from Broadway to Madison Avenue
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Kimberlean Donis

Kimberlean Donis is a journalist based in Brooklyn. She is a student at Williams College majoring in Political Science and Art History.

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