Throughout the past month, Mayor Bill de Blasio has consistently expressed skepticism over calls to open up city streets to give pedestrians and cyclists room to maintain proper social distancing while getting fresh air during the pandemic -- an initial pilot program with a handful of open streets was canceled after less than two weeks because of concerns about NYPD resources being diverted to policing the new open spaces.
But after the City Council introduced a bill last week that would open up to 75 miles of streets for recreation, de Blasio has changed his tune: he announced on Monday that the city would open at least 40 miles of streets as we enter the summer, with the goal of opening 100 miles total.
“The City Council came forward with a vision for how we could open up more streets, do it over time, and do it in a way that’s responsive to the core concerns we've heard of the NYPD over safety and enforcement,” the mayor said during Monday's press conference. “Over the next month, we will create a minimum of 40 miles of open streets...and as the crisis continues, the goal is to get up to 100 miles."
De Blasio's announcement was short on details, but the mayor did explain where they would strategically begin opening streets: "The way we will do it is we're going to focus first on streets in and around our parks. Very concerned about the streets on the outside of parks that oftentimes we're seeing that immediate area getting crowded. That's an obvious opportunity to open up more space."
He added that they will look to expand some sidewalks, open streets in local areas which aren't necessarily near a major park, and expand bike lanes. “So the focus here will be to focus of course, same as we're doing so many things, on where the need is greatest," he said. "The first priority is the places hardest hit and then where it will have the most impact.”
If the streets should be open to the public as this minority of bike zealots and vehicle bashing upper class twits have been more concerned with since the city shut down, then I hope they don't mind homeless families setting up encampments in those former parking spaces.