New York City’s Open Streets Program to Remain a Permanent Change to Streetscapes

New York City’s Open Streets Program to Remain a Permanent Change to Streetscapes

By Yehudit Garmaise

   New York City’s Open Streets project, which makes use of sidewalk space for local businesses and restaurants to stay open and serve customers outside, is going to become a permanent feature of the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio said this morning at his press conference.  

 The Open Streets program, the mayor said, “transformed this city.”

   “At a time when people needed hope, they needed to see the life and energy in New York City, Open Streets, Open Restaurants gave New Yorkers that energy again.

  Another part of Open Streets is that the city now designates multiple blocks for use and enjoyment of pedestrians and cyclists, noted Mayor de Blasio, a longtime advocate of the use of bicycles for transporation instead of cars.

   Open Streets is “one of the biggest changes to the New York City streetscape since the initiation of the subway," the mayor said. “This is really a profound change for this city to open up and to use our streets differently, and to be out with each other, connecting with each other.” 

   “The program was so successful that it is hard to imagine going forward New York City without it, and we don’t have to because the program is here to stay, said Hank Gutman, who is the commissioner of the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT).  “We are building off the success to make it better and stronger for next year, so that New Yorkers can gather safely, support their local businesses and restaurants safely, as this city and the nation recovers from the pandemic.

   Among the changes to Open Streets the DOT will initiate for its second season are better signs, improved barricades, and increased support for the program’s community partners, said Gutman, who announced the programs new application, which can be found online. 

   Acknowledging that participation in the Open Streets program requires financial investment, Gutman said that the DOT is “planning to address that.

   “Do not let that deter you from applying.

   “This project was born from our need as a people, as a city, during the pandemic, to have safe and open spaces, in which we can spend our time and socially distance.”

Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

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