As Weather Gets Warmer, Pressure Builds to Close More Streets to Traffic


Broadway is nearly empty. Time to close it entirely to traffic? Photo by Jack.

As the weather gets warmer (not including today) more people are heading outside to parks and the streets to get some air. But there’s a limited amount of space given the rules about staying 6 feet away from each other. This weekend, we heard from people who were upset about the crowds in Central Park.

The mayor has been reticent to open the streets, largely because he doesn’t think he can deploy enough police to make sure people aren’t gathering in large groups.

But the City Council is set to vote on a bill to open 75 miles of streets on Wednesday. Local politicians have been supportive of opening more streets. Assembly member Linda Rosenthal has also called on the Department of Transportation to open more streets. “We have been advised to stay between six and twenty feet apart from people when we venture out in public, but it is hard to maintain adequate physical distancing in a City as densely packed as New York,” she wrote.

Gothamist has a longer review of the issue, looking at whether more streets should be opened and how best to do it.

NEWS | 23 comments | permalink
    1. Charles says:

      Close parks, close streets, unless you want to die now. I don’t. Be responsible, don’t be selfish. Think of others. This will pass eventually.

    2. Paul says:

      Social distancing is up to you. Stay alert, be ready to move over or stop. If you’re walking, running, riding, you wait for someone to get 6 feet ahead and fall in. Feel free to politely say “excuse me.”

      Oh. And guess what? People who don’t socially distance in Central Park or Riverside Park aren’t going to socially distance on Broadway either.

      And who among us has the ability to decide that a decision to close any street (especially Broadway) is safe vis-a-vis emergency vehicles and response times?

    3. Nancy says:

      They close streets easily enough for street fairs and parades! There are more pedestrians than cars! We could spread out and breathe a little easier. Close West End!!! (except for emergency vehicles of course.)

      • Naomi says:

        Closing West End would be a great idea.

        • Paul says:

          I walk West End at least 5 times a week. If any avenue in the neighborhood has plenty of sidewalk space to meet demand for social distancing, it’s West End, which is why I walk it.

        • Deb says:

          I guess you don’t live on WEA…
          Let’s close your street first, and see how that works out.

    4. Deri Reed says:

      I’m all for opening up the streets, especially since there is so much less traffic. But more than that, I do wish they’d ban speeding bikers in Central Park. As it’s getting warmer, the park has become more crowded, and runners and walkers are filling up the roadways. Very scary and dangerous when the bikes come tearing through at 25mph +.

    5. John says:

      Any runners or bikers without mask should be fined. Place cops every 1/4 mile on loop

      • DD says:

        People are taking this too far. You only have to wear a mask if you can’t maintain 6ft. Runners and bikers absolutely should not have to wear a mask, you can’t run and breath with a mask on. If you are that scared then YOU should stay home. So tired of scared people yelling at me to stay away when I’m like 20 yards away! Those people get yelled right back at!

        • Upper West Side Rider says:

          While there’s some dispute, there are studies showing that runners and riders expel droplets more than the 6 feet standard which is based on normal inhaling and exhaling.

          It stands to reason that runing and riding causes people to breathe harder which means that yes, you do exhale more droplets and spittle than walkers and yeah, there’s a chance that it goes more than six feet.

          So not wearing a mask when running or riding is a freaking selfish act.
          STOP IT.

        • lynn says:

          How do you know that another walker, runner, or biker is going to keep a 6 foot distance from YOU? Why not wear a scarf around your neck just in case? You have no idea what’s going to happen when you leave your apartment. I’ve only been out 4 times since March and no matter how much space there ‘appeared’ to be someone invariably came within a foot of me for no explainable reason (inside and outside).

        • G says:

          I have been running with a mask for 45 days now. I pull it down when there is no one in sight but it never leaves my face. Yes, it is more difficult, consider it altitude training. All of the races have been cancelled anyway. Wearing a mask is for the safety of others. Is your running REALLY more important than someone else’s health?
          Let’s err on the side of being good neighbors to each other.

        • Deb says:

          It’s a typical opinion here that runners and bikers should be above the law.

        • Matt H says:

          There have been vanishingly few documented cases of outdoor transmission, also. Unless very large crowds are involved.

          Look, I understand people are scared, but insisting that this jogger carefully maintaining 6 foot distances from everyone (more if possible) has to wear a mask anyway is just unproductive, it’s pandemic theater.

          And honestly I feel like people who keep harping on it are the same sort who liked that Mussolini kept the trains running on time. (Even though in point of fact Italian trains were just as late under him as they had been before and after.)

    6. Chris says:

      The city will be open soon so to late to talk about this stuff. Cars will be pouring back into the city.

    7. ben says:

      Open all the streets if that’s what it takes to stop the morons on motorcycles bombing up and down.

    8. Martina says:

      CLosing streets then presents a problem for us to get much-needed (and often take weeks to get!) deliveries for those of us who can’t get out and don’t have others to shop for us.

      Also, how do you close streets and get other deliveries (USPS, FedEx, UPS) that we desperately need as well.

      How does that work?

      • lynn says:

        Excellent point! Most of my packages have already been stolen so I have no hope for UPS etc., but I also wonder if closing the streets might hinder food delivery.

        • Jay says:

          The streets won’t be closed, per se. They will be blocked, but the barriers (cones) will be able to be easily moved so that people can get in and out, slowly.

          75 miles of road is a very, very small proportion of NYC roads.

    9. Can't Go Out says:

      Central Park website says everyone including walkers bikers runners should wear face protection while in the Park. About half don’t.

    10. Alistair Lowe says:

      Yep – been riding down Broadway as emptiest place. Close every other street and every other avenue and traffic would still be dead

    11. Kevin Schwartz says:

      We urgently need to open more streets to people for walking and recreation. We are in crisis- the status quo won’t do. Where is the Community Board on this? CB7 needs to take the lead!! Thank god the City Council is speaking up about this issue, since the Mayor isn’t doing enough.