De Blasio’s ‘open roads’ still used by drivers, survey finds

Bill de Blasio’s “open roads” across the city remain open to more than half of drivers, according to a new report.

The program – which closes roads to all but local and emergency traffic to create space for biking, walking and playing – was launched during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic and was launched last May. was made permanent by the mayor and city council. According to a survey by Transportation Alternatives released on Tuesday, only 46 percent of the Transportation Department’s listed open road locations are active.

Meaning most pedestrian-friendly “open roads” (54%) are not being implemented.

The affluent and wealthy are more likely to have “successful” open roads, often relying on volunteers and outside funding to maintain. In the Bronx, the survey found that only one in eight listed locations are active. was — compared to seven out of 10 in Manhattan.

As a result, Manhattanites have 14 times more operational open roads than Bronxites, the group said. Brooklyn and Queens suffer similarly, with only 40 percent and 31 percent, with active locations.

The data comes from Transportation Alternatives, which collected 800 reports from volunteers in the field at all 274 open road locations in the five boroughs.

De Blasio’s open streets have emerged as a pandemic-era battleground, with restrictions hotly contested in some neighborhoods and completely ignored in others. While the city has dismantled many failed open roads, others have simply faded without any notice or fanfare, the Transportation Choices Survey found.

a sign for "open street" Near Herald Square.  The city first began closing some roads to vehicular traffic at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A sign for an “open road” near Herald Square. The city first began closing some roads to vehicular traffic at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo by Alexei Rosenfeld/Getty Images

The group said the city’s figures show a “massive reduction” in traffic injuries on open road blocks. According to the report, there has been a 17 percent drop in cyclist injuries in open road locations compared to the 12 months before the traffic restrictions began. – Defying trends across the city in the opposite direction.

But Manhattan and Brooklyn account for two-thirds of the program’s listed locations. According to the group’s findings, predominantly white neighborhoods are more likely to keep open streets “consistently” car-free.

“All communities deserve open roads and the health, climate and safety benefits they provide,” said group director Danny Harris. “We demand that New York City’s elected officials make immediate changes to ensure that the Open Street program has the support it needs to succeed and grow, especially in currently abandoned communities.”

Open Roads event in Forest Park, Queens on May 17, 2020.
Open Roads event in Forest Park, Queens on May 17, 2020.
John Nacion/NurPhoto via ZUMA Press

DOT spokesman Seth Stein said Open Roads is in the process of transitioning from “an emergency response to the pandemic” to a “sustainable and sustainable” program.

“Neighborhoods that apply for the program are already being supported by the resources to make their beloved Open Streets permanent,” Stein said. “Equality and fairness have been at the heart of this program from the beginning, and we are reaching out to neighborhoods that lack community groups or BIDs to provide them with the support they need to participate in the program, no matter what. Be.”


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