NYC Close Streets to Boost Social Distancing [VIDEO]

New Yorkers have more room to practice social distancing. New York City announced it is closing an additional two miles of city streets to vehicles for residents to have more space. The move to limit vehicle traffic is a part of the Open Streets initiative, a measure created by Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council.

The program is monitored by the Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) to encourage residents to physically recreate outside while being able to social distance. The announcement was made at the beginning of May to address overcrowding on city streets.

“As the weather gets warmer, New Yorkers will need options to safely enjoy the sunshine– and we’re excited to give them even more options to do so,”  Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “We thank our partners at local BIDs, which play an essential role in making commercial areas safe places to social distance. We want New Yorkers to enjoy these streets and continue all best practices to stay safe from COVID-19.”

Currently, over seven miles of routes, which opened a week earlier than expected, are included in the measure. According to Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin, reports of the first streets to open have been “encouraging.” During the month of May a total of 40 miles of roadway will provide outside recreation. The city plans to open 100 miles of street access to exercisers throughout the summer. 

“Access to open space is essential to what makes New York City, New York City,” Michael Brady, CEO of the Third Avenue BIDs said. “The open space plan…is a smart and safe activation of roadway to promote public health and safety.”

“As the weather gets warmer, we have to do everything in our power to continue to promote responsible social distancing. Pedestrianizing streets will provide more public space for New Yorkers to walk and bike around while taking the strain off of neighborhood parks,” Council Member Margaret Chin said.

The rules of Open Streets are simple: citizens may not drive vehicles through designated streets during selected days and times except for local deliveries, pick-ups/drop-offs, city or utility work vehicles, and emergency transports. Drivers are expected to watch out for walkers and to drive at five miles per hour through these roadways. 

Visit New York City’s official website to learn more about the routes that Open Streets cover.

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Ema Gavrilovic

Ema Gavrilovic is a graduate of DePaul University with M. Ed in clinical counseling degree. Ema's career accomplishments include freelance writing, social media and PR consulting. In her spare time Ema likes to explore outdoors, cooking and yoga.