12 UWS Blocks Go Car-Less; One Guy Even Has a Lawnchair

Photo by Joeanna Sayler.

Twelve blocks of the Upper West Side were closed to traffic on Thursday, allowing people to walk, bike and scooter without worrying about cars driving by. West End Avenue was closed from 87th to 96th Streets, and 75th Street was closed from Broadway to Riverside Drive.

The streets are expected to stay open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. for the foreseeable future, as the city attempts to give people more room to move around while staying at least six feet apart from each other.

NEWS | 40 comments | permalink
    1. ml says:

      What happens to ambulances, police cases?
      Delivery vehicles?

      • Johnny says:

        Some vehicles are still allowed, according to the city.

        “No through traffic permitted while Open Streets are in effect. Vehicle traffic is limited to local deliveries, pick-ups/drop-offs, necessary city service vehicles, utility vehicles and emergency vehicles only. These drivers are advised to be extremely cautious and to drive 5 MPH or slower.

        Members of the public and organizations wishing to have other New York City streets considered for the Open Streets program may fill out an online survey. NYC DOT, NYPD and others will evaluate all suggestions for viability. If you have questions, please contact your NYC DOT Borough Commissioner’s office.”

      • Kevin S says:

        Not a problem- that’s all allowed!

      • Sid says:

        I was on West End Avenue when an ambulance had to come through, everyone moved aside expeditiously and the ambulance was able to cruise down car-less WEA! Loved it.

    2. Kevin S says:

      Love this! More open streets please- we need space to spread out and distance and enjoy fresh air! So excited the Mayor and the Community Board supported opening the streets for us all to enjoy. Since the rules allow cars to pass through the street if needed for folks who live on the block or emergencies, seems like a total win win for us all! More open streets on the UWS and NYC can help us whether this hard time and recovery from the covid pandemic!

    3. GG says:

      This is nice. Especially for the kids. They need to get out and burn off some steam.

    4. Ryan says:

      This is wonderful! Great to see so many kids out and about. Hope this becomes the norm!

    5. Lisa S. says:

      Thanks for your leadership on this Community Board 7 and Assemblymember Rosenthal and CM Rosenthal. We need more and more ways for people to enjoy our city, get some fresh air, hear the birds chirping. This is a huge win for our community.

    6. Vincent says:

      75th street isn’t closed, anyone know why?

      • ZoomZz says:

        Any one knows why 75th street is going to close?
        Why in hell’s name will you close it from Broadway to Riverside Drive?
        Why? What will it do being closed for the people?
        WHY? A reasonable answer will be nice.
        Thank you

      • Alfonse says:

        I am guessing (and just a guess) that 75th is closed due to the assisted living facility between 74th and 75th on west side of WEA. Those folks were often out in walkers, wheel chairs or just being assisted by caregivers in nice weather. Probably easier to get them out, but still socially distance. I don’t think many of them could make it to 87th-96th.

    7. Reed says:

      Outside is the new Inside! Life on the streets for everyone. Let’s all show respect for others by wearing masks and keeping safe distance.

      • Nancy says:

        Agreed. It’s distressing to see that some people still are not acting for the good of all.

    8. Ken says:

      I walked the length of it this afternoon, right down the center of the street, and I was amazed at how quickly one can get used to assuming ownership of what was once dangerous and off-limits. It was a revelation and there was a lot of joy around me — kids excitedly riding bikes with parents, a runner doing sprints, a teenager on a skateboard, a rap artist just standing in the middle of the street doing his routine. This was only the first day but I was surprised at the number of people who had discovered it. There’s clearly a hunger for space. Thanks to Community Board 7 and other community boards for asking for these Open Streets at this time of such need, and to DOT for delivering in such an unexpectedly bold way.

    9. Nevets K says:

      So excited!
      Nine blocks on West End Avenue – one block from
      Riverside Park – open for walking!
      Bourgeois Heaven!
      “Allons enfants de la patrie
      Le jour de gloire est arrive!”

      (Looks like Helen Rosenthall and/or some members of the Transportation Committee of Community Board 7 may have returned from their country homes… They have to do SOMETHING now!)

    10. robert says:

      75th street was one of the streets the Mayor clsd as well.

      This is the most ridiculous idea ever. 95 96 Bway to RSD is a highway off ramp. The stupidity of including them is beyond the pale.​

      There was no, repeat no consultation with the local precincts in advance, let alone the NYPD at 1PP. They found out about it late yesterday afternoon from media inquires on it. ​
      This was set up by the mayors office and community partners. with their expectation that “community partners” would take care of “enforcing its safety”.​
      As of mid morning and then several times during the afternoon, eve checks where made. No community partners in sight. What was seen is groups of people, parents etc standing in close proximity exchanging C19 stories while kids ran and played, both groups not social distancing This is exactly what happened in other areas of the city. . A detail of this size should have 1 Sgt and aprox 5 to 8 officers. This is why the Mayor cancelled this program a month ago NYPD has much more important things to do and the city will not allow the OT. Let alone their having own issues with staffing do to C19.
      Our local elected and self appointed community leaders were supposed to monitor this, they were a no show.​

      To think that streets are closed to traffic is wrong. Traffic can drive on these streets as long as they don not exceed 5 mph. ​
      With all the delivery trucks, garbage collects, cars etc this is a disaster waiting to happen. ​I can’t wait to see the alternate side dance in the middle of this next week.
      The mayor side it would be done only near or along parks gee perhaps RSD, not WEA?​

      Also with the 37th redo of B’way and its repeated neckdowns, traffic is even now backed up on it. Therefore fire, police, ambulances etc use WEA a clean shot up the UWS. Watching them weave in and out of this mess was sad. When multiple crews where queried non had been alerted that this was going on. Normally FDNY, EMT crews are alerted automatically thru central. ​

      Pls move this to RSD ASAP before something happens, even better scarp it altogether.

      • MBTrom says:

        Part of the stipulation for determining where the ‘open streets’ would even be possible is if there are no bus roust that run on that particular section. That is why Summer Streets runs on Park, and why WEA was the candidate for UWS and not RDS.

      • Kevin says:

        I think you misunderstand the program. WEA was not opened by a community partner like a BID, NYC DOT itself is responsible for this project.

        There are no other avenues besides WEA that are not a bus route in the UWS, so this was the only choice.

    11. Lord Of The Slice says:

      Wonderful. It’s like one of those fakakta street fairs without all the stupidity.

    12. MB says:

      75th isn’t closed. It’s completely unchanged. I don’t think anything is going to happen as nobody wants to deal with enforcement.

      • Paul says:

        You can “close” WEA by putting saw horses across half the street which leaves it open to cars and other vehicles that have to be there.
        You can’t do the same with a narrow side street and you have to keep such a street monitored in case of emergencies and other necessary vehicles.

    13. Nevets K says:

      As there is such a loud anti-car lobby on the UWS, supported by the deep-pocketed “Transportation Alternatives” propaganda machine (led by quite a shady “disrupter,” it seems), I wanted to say a few words about…dogs.
      I am beginning to wonder why UWS dog owners don’t pay for “the right” to walk their dogs on the sidewalks and on the streets. They do take up “valuable” public sidewalk and street space. Why should I, who is not a dog owner, “subsidize” – a favoriteTA word – this walking of dogs in public places? Since I don’t own a dog, why should I CARE?
      And how about when two, three, four, five, or even six dogs, held by one dog owner – or a for-hire dog walker – make it nearly impossible for me to pass them on the sidewwalk?
      Time to charge UWS dog owners fees for walking their dogs on “valuable public space”!
      Or, as many arrogant TA folks contend when it comes to car owners, “Let them move to the ‘burbs!”

      • Jay says:


        If you think you’re making a point, you’re not making a good one.

      • Jim says:

        Ha, hahahahahaha. I bet you don’t want your taxes to go towards schools because you don’t have any kids. Just get over yourself and let people live their lives.

        • Nevets K says:

          Yes, of course, this is what I am saying exactly via this absurd example of charging for dogs: Let people have their lives, just as you are saying!
          Don’t start charging or restricting: neither for cars to park on the street, nor for dog owners to walk their dogs, nor for children to walk to school! Of course not!
          All the “Transportation Alternatives” arguments are arrogant and anti-community!

      • Tego says:

        How about charging for children as they too take up space when with parents? And let’s not forget the extra room for walkers and wheel chairs.

        FYI: I don’t have a dog.

      • Clean Sidewalks says:

        There’s also the unsanitary ecological effect of dogs’ urinating and defecating on sidewalks which is now more unsafe than ever.

    14. Barbara Litt says:

      THIS IS FANTASTIC! I was out there and shared the street with kids and adults and NO CARS!!

    15. Barbara B says:

      Today I walked these blocks in both directions at around 12:30 pm. I could have counted on 2 hands the number of people in the street. By the way, the sidewalks were also empty. There were a few dog walkers, a cyclist, a runner, a couple. I saw no children. I do not see the need for this. Perhaps on weekends when there are more people out and about? Just seems a little useless right now.

      • Jay says:

        Most avenues are pretty useless right now in Manhattan. Might as well open them up for everyone in the neighborhood to use for some fresh air and recreation.

      • Johnny says:

        I saw plenty of people and am using it 2-3 times a day. Love it!

      • Paul says:

        Live in the area (my building shows up on at least one of the photos) and have been seeing what’s happening on West End on a daily basis since the crisis began.

        The sidewalks have never been overcrowded and safe distancing has only been a problem for people who don’t pay attention. Bike riding has been safe and easy up and down the Avenue, and on 11th below 59 Street.

        So far, the open streets rarely have more than 6 or 8 on a block, and never more than the sidewalks can handle.

        Is this a big deal? Perhaps only if you live on West End and are used to being able to flag a taxi? But that’s usually the old folk, so who cares, right?

        What’s really needed on West End? More red light and speed cameras. Way more.

        • Johnny says:

          So you’re in favor? Alright! High five!
          Just came back from a night walk before things opened back up. Weather is phenomenal.

    16. joe lichtig says:

      Your article missed the funniest item: One man in a chair in the middle of the street with two dogs on both sides of him. The bigger dog was in a plastic 6 foot plastic water bath about one full deep. when we walked to the end and returned, all was just as before.

    17. marcia benowitz says:

      Please list all the streets that are open. Thanks.

    18. Linda F says:

      The open street on West End Ave betw 87th and 96th has been cancelled without notice. DOT says the Mayor has sole authority and does not need to give a reason. They thought maybe there were people who didn’t like it. Everyone we saw loved the safety and space. Could people who like ease in parking and moving cars right in front of their buildings have complained? Aren’t we all in this together?

    19. Linda F says:

      This is a correction to my post of yesterday. The open street on WEA between 87th and 96th street is still in effect. Apparently it was only in the morning yesterday that the barricades were down and traffic was moving normally. The DOT staff in the car who told me that the street was permanently out of the program must have been confused. I’m guessing that the short term pause was for street cleaning. I had called Helen Rosenthal’s office and they investigated the situation and called me back today. Their office has sponsored the open streets in this district and they are very much on top of this. Rita, from Helen’s office told me that there must have been a mis-communication by DOT staff and the Open Street is still in effect. Thank you very much for your support and advocacy for your constituents! That is community based representation by our elected official and her staff.