West End Avenue ‘Open Street’ Inexplicably Starts Allowing Traffic; City Says It Should Still Be Open

Traffic was flowing freely down West End Avenue between 87th and 96th Streets on Wednesday afternoon, confusing people who had expected that stretch to be blocked to traffic as part of the city’s open streets program.

“I walked down West End Avenue from 96th to 86th about noon today and all of the sawhorses to block traffic were on the sidewalk or pushed aside parked cars and traffic was moving fairly densely,” wrote on reader. “Do you have a way to find some official who can explain if WEA has been taken out of the mix or if the times have changed?”

The city Department of Transportation told us that they’re not sure why it was suddenly open to traffic, but that they’re reached out to NYPD. “There has been no change at this location, and we are in touch with NYPD about the issue.”

We’ve also reached out to the local precinct and will update this if we hear back.

NEWS | 53 comments | permalink
    1. Johnny says:

      Whew! Glad to hear this program will still be ongoing. I was confused during my walk this afternoon because the location is still listed on the Open Streets Website. Thanks!

    2. Liz says:

      Maybe they realized the 25 people daily ,who walk down the street, as opposed to the empty sidewalks can use th 250 acre park 1 block west.

      • Johnny says:

        25 people…sure Liz.

        The majority of the UWS loves this program and you can tell by the large amounts of people out on WEA daily.

      • Josh says:

        Hi Liz, as soon as they reopen, I’d suggest making an appointment with an optometrist. Most weekdays, when I have been on WEA, there are about a dozen people PER BLOCK of the open streets at any one time, perfectly allowing for social distancing. On weekends, the number was higher and it actually was harder to social distance. In other words, the program is working exactly as it is expected to work.

        • Paul says:

          I live on this stretch of WEA and as between the two exaggerations, Liz is closer to the truth. Especially on weekdays.
          What makes the partial closure a plus is that there’s no demand for school buses or the constant flow of yellow cabs that run up and down the avenue in normal times.

          If those times ever return the impact on residents will become obvious.

          In the meantime relax. the barriers are back.

        • Johnny says:

          Well said, Josh. You are 100% correct.

      • Chris says:

        Let’s not forget that cars can use the 2-way streets on either side of West End Ave. They’re even closer than the park!

    3. Back to Life says:

      Now. This is why we love New Yorkers! Move the stupid saw horses and get on with life. If protesters can crowd the streets, it’s clear Covid is over.

      • Vincent says:

        Get bent! New Yorkers love streets without cars .

        • AB says:

          Lovely sentiment. How crass. Anyway. All New Yorkers? Don’t think so.

        • Susan says:

          It’s amazing how selfish Vincent speaks for all new Yorkers…
          I cant wait till he has go to his chemo appt on a citibike

        • C says:

          No accounting for taste. Yikes. Plus. Lots of New Yorkers like their cars. Obvi.

        • Jan says:

          If so, and this continues, maybe the High Line should be returned to it’s original purpose; to bring goods and mdse
          into the city.
          We are asking too much from our streets, dense traffic,
          trucks, and now those damn bikes. 40 people lost their life
          last year due to bikes, this summer I suspect it will be more. It’s just NOT
          working. Duh…….

          • robert says:

            It should be as its turning into a large costly boondoggle. Large sections of it near the entrance to the tunnel are having issues
            Large amounts of water leak out from where the bottom is rusting out. If you go down there you can clearly see the spots as the exterior sides and bottom where painted black, with patch of rust with large white streaks coming from them. While one would hope the city has budgeted for these needed repairs, they have not done so. The leaks have gotten larger in the past couple of years. Every politico wants the bright new shiny objection, no one wants to allocate the millions need for rebuilding

          • Boris says:

            There is nothing logical about your High Line comment.

            • robert says:

              If you read the other comments, my comment was an addendum to a previous one by some else and was pointing out that we have a multi million dollar repair bill coming for the High Line. The Friends of the High Line has benefactors that have been quietly talking to city & state politicos for the money. There was no money then, we have been borrowing monies for a number years to cover the day to day expenses of the city, let alone infrastructure long term projects. There is surely no money to spend on vanity projects like this when they are having trouble find the $$$ to keep people feed and teh lights on.

      • Josh says:

        Yup, Covid is over. Just like that. Please make sure you tell the families of the people who died yesterday, and die today, that they died from nothing since it is over.

    4. Paul says:

      It’s an NYPD operation. Cops from the 24th set it up and take it down daily.

      I hear that, lately, they’re pretty busy.

    5. Kat says:

      It may be all the people Moving the barricades to allow them to drive through, as I witnessed Sunday. Some people don’t believe the rules apply to them.

    6. oldtimeUWSer says:

      guess we’re not doing the covid thing anymore, whatevs. must be enough vents now if there’s a spike in two weeks.

    7. ST says:

      Hilarious

    8. ZoomZ says:

      Stores are looted.
      Cars are burning.
      People are attacked.
      And we worry about 9 blocks being open to street walking?
      The sidewalks on WEA are the widest in the city.
      Walk the sidewalks.
      Worry about the city coming back to life.
      Stop with being so mad about cars.

      • ST says:

        How ‘bout stop lecturing people. Keep your own house in order.

        • ZoomZ says:

          I am not lecturing anyone, let alone – you.
          I’m just pointing the blindness of people such as you, failing to put life in order of importance.
          Stay the course, of course, enjoy the empty streets and keep the blinders on.
          Cheers

      • Johnny says:

        We worry about all of those things. The open streets have been one of the few bright spots of the past few months.

    9. JS says:

      BTW many do not realize that some Instacart and other grocery delivery workers – gig workers – use personal vehicles to delivery groceries to those ordering from home. I’ve seen some with kids in the back seat, as parents need to work and have no babysitter resources.

      As gig workers, the delivery workers are responsible for their vehicles, liability etc – the big corporations make the big profits on the back of the gig workers…

      So yes these workers are in vehicles, delivering groceries. And not paid much…

      • JS says:

        I would remind that many West Side residents are fortunate to be able to stay home, get deliveries – and also enjoy Riverside Park.

        The grocery and other delivery people, including those using vehicles, are not so fortunate and not able to protect their health or the health of their families.

        Should these workers not have ease to drive on West End to deliver to you?

        • GeezLouise says:

          They can deliver on west end. Not sure how people don’t get that at this point. local deliveries are fine.

        • Jay says:

          These workers have always been able to use West End Ave before and during open streets.

          Nothing changed during open streets other than pedestrians being given priority on the streets rather than cars.

        • Josh P. says:

          Local deliveries have always been allowed to drive on Open Streets in order to get to their destination. They just have to drive slowly and exit the street when they are done. It’s really not an inconvenience for locals or people doing business locally.
          What Open Streets does prevent is people driving through a neighborhood from one end to the other without stopping. It is an inconvenience for people who see the UWS primarily as a highway rather than a neighborhood. Those people will have to drive on one of the other avenues or the west side highway for those 10 blocks.

    10. Jamory says:

      I was also outraged about this. It wasn’t delivery people; the barricades had been totally removed and traffic was flowing freely. It’s as if the law no longer exists.

      • Jay says:

        It wasn’t a law; it was a policy. A policy that deblasio never wanted to do anything with in the first place.

        So, find some cones and put them out there. Problem solved.

    11. C says:

      Again. What happened at the Board Meeting on Tuesday night????

    12. Breshnev says:

      Maybe the protesters moved the saw horses…. guess we’ll know in two weeks…

    13. Sue and Mike says:

      DOT should make amends for this screw-up by closing the entirety of WEA.

    14. Mr K says:

      The least of our problems

    15. MF says:

      This is going to become a problem when alternate side parking is reinstated. Last I heard it was Monday June 7th, unless they change their minds. How are people supposed to move their cars in and out of those streets or drive around looking for another spot. The 2 policies can’t really co-exist.

      • DAVID says:

        End the free on-street parking.

        • Car Lover says:

          Pay for parking. Great. Get neighborhood stickers. Still need to use the street for alternate side sweeping.

      • Deb says:

        Alternate side needs to be reinstated ASAP. It is hot and humid, and the streets stink. Add some deodorizer to those street sweeping machines.

    16. Duhfus says:

      In case anyone’s tallying the votes, our family loves the open streets. They work as predicted: less crowded walkways than those in Riverside Park. Delivery people who drive SLOWLY are not a problem; electric bikes that zoom through are.

    17. wea resident says:

      Tuesday 6/1 at 10:30am the cars and cabs flew by. A call to the 24th precinct Community contact went to voice mail. A message/question was left. Then 311 said West End ‘closing times depend on police staffing.’ I guess many of the NYPD were tied up with curfew/looters (700 reported arrested in NYC Monday night) Since NYPD can’t do the job, maybe DOT or Sanitation could move the barriers.
      And maybe the families of cyclists should reconsider spreading across the whole street and maybe people making excessive noise (shouting, amplified music, barking dogs) should realize it is an open street for fresh air, with people still living in the buildings above, and it is not on open carnival or circus ground.

    18. WEAguy says:

      The Mayor’s Office issued a statement today saying that the Open Streets Program is currently at about 45 miles of streets and will expand up to 100 miles in the coming weeks and months. It looks like this is here to stay, which my family is quite happy about.

    19. GCo says:

      Same thing on Morningside Ave.

    20. robert says:

      IT IS WAS and Will be still open.
      As the sign at each street says its open to any and all delivery trucks, construction vehicles, buses, acesseride, Verizon, spectrum, fresh direct, moving van etc. As well as being open to regular cars on a ‘local” bases. The only stipulation is that you drive at 5mph
      When the mayor started this idea and quickly killed it when it was realized that there were not enough officers to do it safely.
      Then came the bike lobby and local electeds political pressure. It should be noted that this came in areas that may people had fled from, not areas of the city that still had most of their residents remaining.
      When this policy was put in place there was no consultation with the NYPD and local precincts where not informed until the night before. The Mayors office worked the details out with “community partners” that where supposed to have people their staffing the various intersections to make sure all was safe. They never were there from day one till today.
      Perhaps you should call the Mayor and our local electeds to ask where their promised staffing is/was.
      The original role out would require a sgt. (supervisor) and 6 to 8 officers to properly cover the number of streets, and vehicle – person conflicts.
      These open streets go away when we reopen, which is June 8th. Or at least that’s what de Balz said will happen.

      This set up was another looney idea from city hall. There have been numerous close calls with people failing to understand that vehicles were still on the Ave.

      • WEAguy says:

        June 8th as a reopening? Phase I – have you looked at what that consists of?

        As I noted above, the Open Streets Program is expanding, not ending. WEA will be open for all to enjoy (and yes, deliveries and cars can still access the road).

    21. Chris says:

      You have all of those parks to stroll through- acres and acres. Not
      everyone in this city can walk freely- some of us are
      disabled- we can’t bike or walk for blocks on end.
      We pay taxes too. Cut the crap and re-open
      the streets please!!

      • WEAguy says:

        You can’t walk or bike, but others can. If your complaint is that you can’t access a ride on WEA, that complaint is inaccurate.

    22. Wendy says:

      traffic was always supposed to be closed off above W. 87th…. not West 86th. It was impracticable to close off W. 87th and W. 86th at West End, since that’s where the M86 turnaround is.