You are reading

City Council Passes Bill to Ensure Open Streets Are Permanent

Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas, State Sen. Jessica Ramos, Council Member Carlina Rivera and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards at a rally on the 34th Avenue open street Thursday (Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas)

April 30, 2021 By Allie Griffin

The City Council passed a bill Thursday to ensure that the Open Streets program is a permanent fixture in New York City for years to come.

The bill, sponsored by Manhattan Council Member Carlina Rivera, codifies and expands upon the initial program that closes streets to through traffic for pedestrian and cyclist use.

The program was introduced about a year ago as a temporary measure to provide New Yorkers with adequate outdoor space amid the pandemic. It proved popular in many neighborhoods, garnering particular success on 34th Avenue, an area short of park space.

Mayor Bill de Blasio had pledged to make the program permanent. The bill, however, makes that pledge law, and ensures that there are adequate resources for it.

The bill also aims to expand on the program.

The program currently incorporates more than 200 open streets that shutter to through traffic from the hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in most cases. Local traffic is permitted on some streets, at 5 MPH.

The bill, however, would provide communities with the ability to expand these hours to keep the open streets closed to through traffic 24/7, seven days a week.

The DOT will also be required to monitor the success of each open street annually and make improvements where appropriate, such as adding traffic calming measures, building pedestrian plazas or removing parking spaces.

The legislation requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide staffing and other resources to a minimum of 20 open streets in neighborhoods that would ordinarily be underserved. The aim is to create open streets in neighborhoods that don’t have volunteer groups equipped to manage them.

Several Queens legislators, joined by Rivera, held a rally at the 34th Avenue open street in support of the legislation ahead of the Council vote.

The avenue, which closes between 69th Street and Junction Boulevard each day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., is one of the most popular open streets within the program.

Neighbors have formed the 34th Ave Open Streets Coalition and host weekly dance lessons, kids activities, ESL assistance and exercise classes on the 26-block, 1.3-mile stretch.

Assembly Member Jessica Gonzáles-Rojas, State Sen. Jessica Ramos, Council Member Daniel Dromm and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards all came out to the rally on 34th Avenue Thursday.

Richards called the bill’s passage — and the expansion of the program to communities underserved by it — monumental.

“What we’re saying to communities around the city is that you matter,” he said. “That although Robert Moses might have overbuilt your community and didn’t think about park space, we can take back our streets and that’s what we’re doing today.”

Transportation advocates also applauded the legislation.

Transportation Alternatives Director of Organizing Erwin Figueroa said the bill will facilitate open streets like the successful 34th Avenue throughout the five boroughs.

“Now open streets are going to be part of the fabric of New York City,” Figueroa said at the rally. “It’s going to be part of the infrastructure of New York City because now we are reclaiming our streets and giving them back to people.”

The bill passed the Council with a 40-to-8 vote.

Among the no votes were Queens Council Members Adrienne Adams, Barry Grodenchik, I. Daneek Miller and Francisco Moya.

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Southeast Queens man indicted for stealing more than $1.1M in pandemic loan fraud scheme: Feds

A Springfield Gardens man was arrested by federal agents on Thursday morning for allegedly stealing more than $1.1 million in a COVID-19 loan fraud scheme.

Terry Dor, 36, of 145th Road, was arraigned hours later in Brooklyn federal court on an eight-count indictment charging him with wire fraud, theft of public funds and money laundering in connection with a scheme to steal funds from the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program that provided emergency funding to distressed businesses during the pandemic.

NYPD honors school crossing guard who was killed at dangerous Queens intersection in October

Fallen school crossing guard Krystyna Naprawa was posthumously promoted by the NYPD to the rank of community coordinator during a ceremony at One Police Plaza on Thursday attended by her family, friends and dozens of colleagues.

The 14-year veteran was killed while on duty on the morning of Oct. 20 after safely guiding children across a busy intersection on Woodhaven Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue in Woodhaven. Moments later, Naprawa was struck by a turning dump truck that proceeded to run her over. EMS pronounced her dead at the scene.

Miss G, the culinary matriarch, celebrates over 30 years of serving the best Jamaican cuisine in Queens

Feb. 22, 2024 By Tracey Khan

In the heart of Queens, there is a culinary gem that has woven itself into the very fabric of the community – G’s Restaurant & Bakery located at 135-36 Rockaway Blv’d., South Ozone. For more than three decades, G’s Restaurant has been serving up some of the most authentic and mouthwatering Jamaican cuisine and stands as a testament to the enduring power of a dream and the legacy of one woman’s culinary prowess.

Crunching the Queens crime numbers: felony assaults across the borough on the rise, burglaries down slightly in northern Queens

Feb. 21, 2024 By Ethan Marshall

The number of felony assaults across Queens increased during the 28-day period from Jan. 22 through Feb. 18, compared to the same period of time last year, according to the latest crime stats released by the NYPD Tuesday. At the same time, the number of reported burglaries experienced a slight but noticeable drop in northern Queens.

Police officer injured during traffic stop in South Ozone Park after driver speeds off: NYPD

Police from the 106th Precinct in Ozone Park are actively searching for the driver of a sports car responsible for injuring an officer during a traffic stop on Sunday evening.

The driver of a black Corvette was traveling westbound on Rockaway Boulevard when officers pulled him for speeding just after 9 p.m. near the intersection of Centerville Street and 109th Avenue in South Ozone Park. As one of the officers approached the vehicle, the driver stepped on the accelerator running over the cop’s foot as the Corvette sped away from the scene, police said.