In an early deployment, New York City’s first seven miles of open streets opened this past Saturday. It’s been a bumpy road to this point, with the first pilot at the end of March shut down after a week, and initial pushback from Mayor Bill de Blasio, the NYC Department of Transportation and the NYPD. But, with significant support from New York City Council and Council Speaker Corey Johnson, as well as push from Governor Andrew Cuomo, the city committed to 40 miles of open streets in the first month and up to 100 miles while the city remains on pause.

People in the open streets on Prospect Park West

More than half of the first seven miles are located inside parks, not on the city street, which does feel like an expedient way to boost the numbers. But still, people came out to check out the 2.69 miles of car-free streets outside of parks. We went to check out a 0.15 mile stretch on Prospect Park West from 3rd Street to Garfield Place in Park Slope.

Prospect Park Open Streets

NYPD barriers, both wooden and metal, were placed at the ends of each block but there was no officer presence or need for it. Nearly everyone we saw was wearing masks, including children, and people were walking dogs, biking, and walking. Interactions between small groups of people were done at a social distance.

The open streets are open from 8 AM to 8 PM daily. There is no through traffic permitted, but local deliveries, pick-ups/drop-offs, necessary city service vehicles, utility vehicles and emergency vehicles are allowed and must drive 5 MPH or slower.  Where can you find the open streets? See the chart below for locations by borough.

Bronx Open Streets Locations as of May 4, 2020:

Open Street
From
To
Full Block
Park/Area/Partner
Grant Avenue 170th Street 169th Street Full Block
Grant Park
Reservoir Oval East/West Bainbridge Avenue Bainbridge Avenue Full Block
Williamsbridge Oval

Brooklyn Open Streets Locations as of May 4, 2020:

Open Street
From
To
Full Block
Park/Area/Partner
Parkside Avenue Park Circle Ocean Avenue Full Block
Prospect Park
Prospect Park West 3rd Street Garfield Place Full Block
Prospect Park
Sackman Place Truxton Street Fulton Street Full Block
Callahan-Kelly Playground

Manhattan Open Streets Locations as of May 4, 2020:

Open Street
From
To
Full Block
Park/Area/Partner
Dyckman Street Broadway Seaman Avenue Full Block
Lt. William Tighe Triangle
East End Avenue East 83rd Street East 89th Street Full Block
Carl Schurz Park
Laurel Hill Terrace Amsterdam Avenue Amsterdam Avenue Full Block
Highbridge Park
Margaret Corbin Drive Fort Washington Avenue Cabrini Boulevard Full Block
Fort Tryon Park

Heart chalk drawing on Prospect Park West

Queens Open Streets Locations as of May 4, 2020:

Open Street
From
To
Full Block
Park/Area/Partner
Court Square West Jackson Avenue Dead End Full Block
Court Square Park
East Main Drive Metropolitan Avenue Overlook Parking Lot Full Block
Forest Park
Freedom Drive Park Lane South Myrtle Avenue Full Block
Forest Park
Meadow Lake Drive Model Airplane Field Meadow Lake Bridge Parking Lot Full Block
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Shore Boulevard Ditmars Boulevard Astoria Park South Full Block
Astoria Park
West Main Drive Band Shell Lot Golf Course Lot Full Block
Forest Park

Staten Island Open Streets Locations as of May 4, 2020:

Open Street
From
To
Full Block
Park/Area/Partner
Front Street Canal Street Edgewater Street Full Block
Stapleton Waterfront Park
Silver Lake Park Road Forest Avenue Victory Boulevard Full Block
Silver Lake Park

Biker on Prospect Park West

The opinion so far? In an interview with Streetsblog, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg conceded that the city had “evolved” its approach from requiring heavy police presence to one that encourages local participation. She told the website, “PD, DOT, Parks will be monitoring, but we are not manning the barricades all day long. We are certainly looking for community groups and the citizen army to make this program a success. One of the tradeoffs is we’re not going to staff it heavily with city officials, we kinda need neighborhood folks to step up and help [application link here].”

Prospect Park West open streets police barricade

We look forward to seeing where the open streets will expand to next and hope it will expand to more neighborhoods that do not have close accessibility to parks and open space.

 

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