Part of Columbus Avenue Will Become ‘Open Street’, Closed to Traffic on Sundays

Columbus Avenue from 68th to 77th Streets will close to traffic on Sundays starting August 29 as part of the city’s Open Streets program, according to the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District (BID).

Open Streets is a citywide program meant to give people more room to roam around outside. There will be outdoor dining on the block, the BID said. Sections of Columbus and Amsterdam have been closed on weekends farther uptown for the past few months.

This Open Streets program will block traffic from the avenue from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. And there will be no parking on the avenue during that period.

The program will be in place at least until November 14.

NEWS | 95 comments | permalink
    1. Great Scott says:

      There are two parks right near by – plenty of room to roam around. All this is going to do is create more traffic.

      • Josh says:

        It’s amazing – people yell, scream, and complain about the traffic on Amsterdam at 96th street where it closes down to traffic for the Open Streets. But in reality, if you stand on the corner of 96th and Amsterdam, THERE IS NO TRAFFIC BACKUP!!! Go figure.

        • Mark Moore says:

          In the summer, Sunday traffic is pretty light. Before the summer there was traffic backed up down Amsterdam. And any time they close Amsterdam there, there’s always traffic backed up on 96th St. I’d hate to live at that intersection with all the honking all Sunday long.

        • Wendy says:

          wrong. There was plenty of traffic backup on Sunday. My GPS told me to avoid W. 96th Street entirely, and directed me to take the 86th Crosstown transverse instead.

      • Quan Lee says:

        True.

      • DavidS says:

        Great Scott:

        “All this is going to do is create more traffic.”

        How does that work? Will closing the street simply create new cars out of thin air? How can I get one?

        • Juan says:

          Easy. Basically the same number of cars. Fewer streets for them to drive on. Hence more traffic on the streets that are still open.

          When West End was closed to cars, I was on a very slow moving bus on Broadway because all of the traffic that would normally be on West End was on Broadway, creating lots of traffic. I once saw an ambulance get stuck in similar traffic.

      • Rational One says:

        Wrong. It has been proven time and time again in cities all over the world (includinf this one) that removing some streets doesn’t create traffic. People adapt. Learn to take different routes. Or different modes. Or change their plans. Is CPW and Fifth Ave so horribly worse wince they closed almost 5 miles of road in Central Park? No. Whet about all the traffic created when they closed much of Times Square? Didn’t happen. There are approximately 8 miles of avenues in the UWS. You can deal with the less than half a mile, or 1/16th, fewer roadway one day a week for a few months.

    2. Sid says:

      Open streets doesn’t “block traffic,” but rather opens the streets for pedestrians.

      • Isaac says:

        Yes! As a parent of young kids, I feel much safer letting them run when the streets are open to people

    3. ben says:

      I really like Open Streets but we sorely need better enforcement because some drivers simply move or drive around the barricades.

    4. Carlos says:

      Yet another misguided Open Streets. I kind of get the point of this in areas without parks nearby. But this is a block from Central Park. The top end is next to AMNH. Restaurants are getting extra space daily without any additional fees with their street dining sheds. Are those not sufficient?

      I take my young child on the bus down Columbus to an activity in Hells Kitchen on Sunday mornings. So much for that.

      Who is making these decisions? People trying to solve problems that don’t exist?

      • Mike says:

        There’s a bus on Broadway that goes to Hell’s Kitchen on Sunday Mornings, too.

      • Jay says:

        Too many cars around us taking most of our public lands is a problem that exists.

        The C train is available on CPW.

        • Elyse says:

          People who hate cars should not be the ones making decisions for people who use cars. It is legal in the United States,including NYC, to own and drive cars. Cars and trucks are part of the economy and the tax base in this city. That is what pays for the open streets, that force people off the streets so they cannot go and spend money in the shops to support the economy. Furthermore, not everyone is under 40 or even 60 and able to “shpatzir” around. Some are older and some are handicapped. Some need cars for family and health reasons. This is not a worled where one constituency gets to rule to satisfy there own needs, exclusively.

        • Elyse says:

          People who drive cars, do so, under authority of the law. They support the economy by patronizing businesses in the neighborhood. This drives people out of the city and hurts the economy. Its possible to give both constituencies access.

      • Chase says:

        They’ll reroute the M7/M11 down CPW for that stretch. You and your young child will be perfectly fine on your ride to Hells Kitchen.

      • Brandon says:

        Wouldn’t buses just do a detour around the closed section of Columbus, the way they would for roadwork or any other obstruction on their route? I doubt the city is canceling entire bus lines because 9 blocks on the UWS aren’t open to through-traffic for less than half a day a week.

        • JS says:

          Hi Brandon,
          I too am concerned about the rerouting of the M7 and M11.

          IMO…
          It is unacceptable to reroute buses to provide restaurant with free space. And Central Park is a block away for recreation.

          Moreover, the M7 and M11 have been re-routed further uptown on weekends for a year – again for restaurant street dining.
          With the apparent resumption in concerts and street fairs (example: August 21-22 concert in Central Park and TD bike tour), there will be other bus reroutings

          Elderly, disabled, many women depend on bus service.

          Bus mass transit is a fundamental, essential service in NYC. Bus service should be the priority here.

          • Brandon says:

            This planned closure implicates only three stops along the M7 and M11 routes, and only once a week for half a day. Sundays are also the lowest bus ridership days by far, according to MTA data.

            Will it create an actual, concrete problem for you personally or someone you know? If so, please elaborate, because all I’m seeing on here right now is a lot of concern about abstract inconvenience for theoretical people.

            • Carlos says:

              Let’s turn the tables, Brandon. Why are you so passionate about Open Streets that you are spending much of your day arguing for it. It is not just one or two of us who is not happy about this. And the reasons cited are valid and we do not appreciated being patronized by you.

              Please note that I am not opposed to this once in a while, and I actually am supportive of the occasional street fair. But I think shutting down the street for most of the day Sunday week in and week out is overkill.

            • Brandon says:

              Lol, I thought you were done trying to argue with me about this?

              But since you’re back for more, I’ll point out that in your attempt to portray me as obsessed, you have apparently overlooked the fact that you and I have both commented an equal number of times on this story.

              This just underscores my larger point, which is that many of the Open Streets criticisms aired here don’t seem to be rooted in anything real.

              But rather than engage with facts or substance, you prefer to question my motives and repeat your conclusory attacks on the program. I’m genuinely willing to hear out a good-faith complaint about the impact of the closure, but you have not provided that so far.

              Besides, I wasn’t talking to you when I replied to “JS.” I think “JS” is capable of responding to me (or choosing not to) by themselves.

      • Carlos says:

        I forgot I live in the most literal neighborhood in America. Good Lord. I wish all of this brilliance could be channeled towards something useful rather than nitpicking people to death.

        My point still stands. Open streets is a dumb idea. People do not need to walk in the middle of the street. That is what sidewalks and parks are for. I am fine with shutting down the block a few times a year for the street fairs so many around here despise. But shutting it down weekly is silly.

        • Brandon says:

          No, your point doesn’t stand. You were criticizing the closure on the basis that it would deny you and your “young child” access to bus service, so it’s not nitpicky to question that premise.

          But now that even you concede the bus impact is not really an issue, your point is what?

          The closure is “dumb” and “silly” because you say so? Because it occasionally is a minor inconvenience to you? Because the current level of pedestrian space on the UWS is your maximum optimal amount?

          • Carlos says:

            I’m not going to win this battle so I’m not even going to try. The open streets mafia is so dug in, as are the know-it-alls.

            I cited this as one way in which I personally will be admittedly minorly inconvenienced. A lot of other people will be more significantly inconvenienced. For what benefit? So a few restaurants might (emphasis on might) earn a negligible amount of incremental revenue? So the know-it-alls can convene in the middle of the street to rejoice on how they stuck it to me on WSR?

            Dayenu. I have bigger battles to fight.

    5. SadforUWS says:

      Trying to turn the UWS into Europe is stupid. Bloomberg made a mess of Times Square with his chairs and tables and now this. We are blessed with not one, but two incredible parks. You want to walk around, go there. Restaurants should not have to suffer anymore, now with the vaccine passport rule. End the shantytowns.

      • Isaac says:

        Bloomberg made a mess of Times Square?? You must be joking, it’s much improved even if it’s still too much of a tourist area for my tastes.

    6. ml says:

      Not OK for bus riders.

      Also don’t understand how DOT can do without any public notice or comment

      • Kevin F says:

        Do you remember when the West End Avenue open street was ended by a tweet from the DOT? No public notice there either, so don’t see why this would be any different.

    7. Adam says:

      It’s really enough, streets by their nature are vehicles for transportation. They are not walkways, they are not restaurants, they are not parks. They were built to facilitation vehicular traffic. When they are closed down, they fail to serve that purpose. It creates congestion, and forces cars to spend more time in traffic circumnavigating the closure, burning more fossil fuel in the process. All said, this is a bad idea.

      • Juan says:

        Careful. All of the UWS anti-car people are going to jump all over you and say that people don’t need cars so we should not be catering to them. Because if they don’t have cars and they don’t have friends or family or jobs outside the UWS, no one else should either. Perhaps if they left the UWS a little more they would have more perspective and lighten up.

        Lather, rinse, repeat.

      • JVM says:

        “They were built to facilitation vehicular traffic.”

        You may want to look at literally any historical record of Manhattan and try to update your understanding of what the Upper West Side’s streets were originally built to facilitate.

      • Josh P. says:

        “ They are not walkways, they are not restaurants, they are not parks. They were built to facilitation vehicular traffic.” Let’s stop using half of every street as a free parking lot. Convert that curb space to loading zones so people don’t double park and people can actually move around the city!

        • Nevets K says:

          Earth to readers: People will double park no
          matter what. Witness the complete and total failure of the West End Avenue so-called “loading zones.” The only discernible effect: the loss of numerous parking spots. And DOT will not remove them as that would be an admission failure.
          Did DOT really do “a study” of the effect of these “zones” during their first year as they had promised?
          What do YOU think?

    8. UWSD says:

      You can walk from Central Park to Riverside Park in 15 mins, 10 if you walk fast. Why on earth do you need this in-between the two?

    9. Josh P. says:

      Fantastic news! There are great restaurants and shops along here and this will encourage more people to shop local.

      • Elyse says:

        That’s not reasonable. The people with cars will leave the neighborhood, and go to where they are wanted, to spend their money. And these open streets become congested with cars tryign to get anywhere, around the obstacle course. It’s selfish not to serve all constituencies.

      • Perplexed says:

        Does it really help those local businesses to have no parking spots near them during brunch? Fewer passersby to see them? If we have dining in the middle of the avenue, the servers would have to cover more ground when there’s already plenty of seats. If an elderly person needs a bus, they have to walk an avenue block at least. For what? An extended sidewalk? I don’t understand what this gets me as a local resident, but I’m well aware of what it’s taking away. DOT won’t shut down streets for billion-dollar emergency construction repairs, but they’ll shut down for…what? Strolling room? Some of the pro-Open Streets crowd is starting to sound entitled to me. Love Open Restaurants, but I don’t get the post-shutdown Open Streets.

    10. topcat2099 says:

      Agree with all the comments on the necessity of creating “open” space in an area with Central Park literally a block to the east and Riverside Park a few blocks to the west. All this is going to do is clog up the other avenues in the area.

    11. Paul on W 67 says:

      Unless they prohibit cyclists and motorized scooters, it won’t be a very relaxing place to stroll. For some reason, the bike lanes on Columbus are a real speedway, where traffic lights are routinely ignored. I’ve nearly been run down several times, often by my fellow old geezers who should know better.

    12. AC says:

      Kinda strange seeing some of the comments on this about concerns about traffic – less than 20% of us own a car, more of us benefit greatly from an open street. I would argue Broadway should significantly or even completely pedestrianize and open the median to pedestrian and bike access

      The one thing that could be done is to leave one lane open for buses and emergency vehicles ONLY but an additional open street is a huge win for this neighborhood and small businesses.

      • Leon says:

        One of the foundation concepts of economics is marginal benefit/marginal cost. In this case, the marginal benefit to the car users (including the elderly and ill who need cabs, those who can’t walk far to buses, etc.) of having the road used for cars vs. not having it used for cars is much greater than the marginal benefit to pedestrians of open streets. So just because car owners are a minority doesn’t mean that they don’t have rights (note that I do not own a car).

        • jan says:

          The city needs cars and trucks etc to bring goods and services into the city unless the Hi Line is restored
          to its original purpose then our streets could be all bikes
          motor bikes motorcycles etc.
          The bike thing on our street has been a disaster.
          How many deaths this year? About 70
          Logically our streets are Too Narrow to accommodate
          everything. The bikes will never work. Duh!!
          Do we have pro City Planners here???????

        • Jay says:

          Has anyone said that the minority of car owners do not have rights? The answer to that is, no.

          But, should the minority of people who own cars dictate how much of our public lands are used 100% of the time? The answer to that is also, no.

          Open street is a very, very small gesture to the majority of us who pay for these public spaces in our neighborhood.

        • Marina Adams says:

          So reasonable, Leo. And not only Manhattan residents use the streets! Businesses, others do business here. How is not allowing them to do business helping neighborhood business?

        • GG says:

          Wow, all of your fancy degrees and that is your take on this? smh

          How exactly are you quantifying cost/benefit here? Your opinion? Gut feelings? I don’t think that’s how it works.

          I would love a little more explanation on this theory of yours.

        • Brandon says:

          This is a bizarre and misguided attempt to invoke economics. Are you sure you really understand what marginal benefit is?

          Marginal benefit refers to the additional incremental benefit gained from the consumption of one additional unit of a particular good. In this case, the good is the roadway, so the pedestrian who normally would not be able to use the roadway gains comparatively more utility from the closure (0 hours of use vs. 11 hours/week) than is lost by the driver, who otherwise can use the road all the time (168 hours/week vs. 156 hours/week).

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          what Leon wrote is not “economics” but gibberish. What is the marginal cost to the car owner of using the street? The street is a “public good” and its use is decided through public policy.

    13. P.H.M. says:

      Yay!

    14. Dale Brown says:

      This is a terrible idea. There are two large major parks- Central Park and Riverside Park where people can walk, run, skate, bike, walk their dogs, etc.

      West 79th Street going east is going to have a major traffic problem. If you go east on 79th you have to turn down Columbus when you hit 77th you can then only go right or left with this Street closure. Major major traffic headache. What happens to the #7 and #11 buses. It would be nice if the community and block associations were consulted. Once again the people who live here have no say.

      • Isaac says:

        Count me as a community member in full support of open streets on the UWS! Not sure community associations are truly representative of the people who live here.

    15. ml says:

      Spoke briefly with a staff person at Councilperson Helen Rosenthal’s office – apparently BID sought this?

      It is not ok to impact bus riders, bus service.
      This will also impact emergency vehicles and move traffic to Broadway which is already congested around 72nd Street due to DOT changes.
      Closing Columbus, just a block from Central Park, is to benefit the chain/LLC restaurant groups and stores who get free space – Magnolia, Swatch etc.

    16. Traveler says:

      Ridiculous. Traffic is bad as it is with outside restaurants and double parking. To move all the southbound vehicles, and bikes -electric or pedal driven- to Broadway or Central Park West will create chaos on th uws I’m glad our cloudy thinking mayor is leaving

    17. Dale Brown says:

      This is a terrible idea. We have two large parks – Central Park and Riverside Park. This will be a traffic nightmare for 79th Street which is NOT a through street to the east side. 77th Street will be backed up with traffic. Why doesn’t the community and block associations have a say as to what is happening in their neighborhood.

    18. Henny says:

      Sincere question—how are these changes being passed without informing the community or getting input—or was this actually discussed in a community board meeting? With Amsterdam closed from 96-110 and Columbus closed from 106 to 110 and now 77 to 68, it’s going to be awfully hard for people who rely on busses (especially the elderly and those with disabilities) and live along those stretches to get around. And walking a full avenue (or two) isn’t an easy task. I’m wondering if they’re looking at the big picture when making these decisions.
      Also, the stretch north of 72nd on columbus on Sundays is pretty dead after 8. It’s going to be downright desolate (and dark) now with no cars driving by.
      Finally are bikes still allowed? In which case, does that mean the motorized bikes will continue to zoom up and down Columbus and put more pedestrians at risk? It’s already treacherous crossing that bike lane.
      Maybe the pros will outweigh the cons, but the city’s decision making on this seems rushed and untransparent

    19. Al says:

      Love this! The center of the universe is getting more civilized!
      End the tyranny of the automobile!

    20. Nevets K says:

      Language creates.
      So let’s stop (mindlessly) adopting the language of the city’s propaganda ministry.
      “Open Streets” are really “Closed Streets.”
      That one’s a no-brainer.
      “Shared Pathway,” as along the Hudson River, is really a “Narrow, Overcrowded Pathway,” where all users are at perpetual risk.
      “Protected Bike Lanes” are really “Protected Electric and Motorbike Lanes,” used, when they aren’t riding on the streets, sidewalks, and paths, by all types of two-wheeled vehicles to the near exclusion of pedal bikes.
      I ask the the editors of WSR to reflect on the language it employs when reporting on these stories.

    21. Tim Simmons 71st says:

      This is absurd not something most residents want

    22. ChillOutItsActuallyGoodNews says:

      It’s a Sunday. One day. There’s not going to be traffic build up and it’s going to be nice. For everyone. I promise. I’m sure all the folks complaining will be there on Sunday to enjoy. Everyone needs to just chill out. Stop complaining about something good. It’s bad for your health.

    23. Hones Abe says:

      Won’t somebody think of the cars?

    24. Elizabeth Inserra says:

      I was participating in the open streets on Amsterdam this weekend. A thing I did notice was that many motorized standup scooters and bikes were passing through. I hope there is some DOT supervision of that activity.

    25. JL says:

      This is awesome! I hope the businesses and kids will take advantage of the car free spaces.

      The traffic will be fine on Sundays, remember the smokey streetfairs with the sausage and peppers EVERY summer weekend pre-2020?

      Northbound Broadway should be pedestrianised from 73rd and southbound from 59th on Sundays.

    26. Annette says:

      Sorry to hear this.

    27. yoyomama43 says:

      I agree that this seems sudden and without discussion (and without an apparent end date.?!) I have, however, noticed that the sidewalks in that area are PACKED. One problem is that now junk vendors have overtaken the wast side of Columbus in the 70s (it’s atrocious – they’re selling rubbish) and street seating seems to have gone back out onto the sidewalks. Seems like we should fix those problems before randomly re-routing traffic and altering bus routes, etc.

      • lynn says:

        Where are all the crowds and vendors? I walk over to Columbus and 74th every morning and I barely see anyone, other than a couple of people eating in front of Lenwich. In any case I’ve never had a problem using a sidewalk and I honestly don’t understand the need for street closings.

        • yoyomama says:

          To answer your question: Sundays the sidewalks on Columbus above W 72nd are PACKED. It’s the same day as the 77th St flea market, except a LOT of people seem to be vending their musty attic trash on the sidewalk (west side), instead of in the parking lot.

          • lynn says:

            Thank you for clarifying, I didn’t realize it was specific to Sunday. I have seen a few people set up tables set up along Broadway with random items.

    28. Julian says:

      This is great, I was hoping that there would be one of these nearby.

    29. Haracopos, John says:

      I love this so much. Honestly, anything that makes it harder for cars to get around the city is a good thing.

    30. Paul says:

      Why wait until the summer is over to do this?
      As the weather cools people will prefer the semi-covered sheds and aren’t going to sit in open areas, so this will be of minimal help to the restaurants.

    31. Erica says:

      I just took my kids down to Astor Place last Sat to enjoy the free outdoor parkour course set up for Open Streets. It was great – so glad we are trying something like this in our neighborhood. To the naysayers here in the comments, it’s only for a couple of months…give it a chance.

      • Paul says:

        Streets like Astor Place are the exceptions that prove the rule. They slice through the grid and are redundant. Closing them isn’t an issue.
        Broadway from Columbus Circle to Union Square is another example, as are several streets south of 14th on the west side, and in the Financial District.

        Here’s the rub, if you read the blogs from the advocates of these moves, they get all upset when the MTA re-routes buses around places like the Holland Tunnel approach because it adds about 700 feet to the walk to the bus stop.
        Closing this Avenue adds exactly that.

    32. Donna says:

      Can they also ban bikes and scooters?

    33. Anna says:

      I like this. Why not try out ideas like this and see if they work? It might create a different feeling in the neighborhood? It’s only one day a week.

      As to there being 2 parks within walking distance, there are also 5 other avenues close by that will remain open to vehicles, and Sundays aren’t usually that high traffic.

    34. Ella says:

      I hate the open street program. It makes it so difficult to get around if you need to use a bus. We have two beautiful massive parks in Manhattan, why do we need to close down streets?

      • Nevets K says:

        With all due respect, kindly refer to this misguided and misnamed program as “Closed Streets.” By accepting the name given to this program by the city’s propaganda ministry, you are aiding in their distortion of reality, the last thing we, as a society, need more of.

    35. Rachel Lee says:

      Why do we need more open space there? It’s a block from Central Park !!?

      Dumb. What a mess!

    36. ZELLA EM says:

      HORRORS! Please, leave us alone!
      Those of us who LIVE here, would like to maintain some semblance of the LIVES we used to KNOW!

    37. RAL says:

      do people downtown living around the open streets saturday program spend all their time complaining or is this just something we like to do on the UWS? Man, some more space for pedestrians once a week for a few hours and people go crazy – its the only time hundreds of people are suddenly worried about old people who urgently need to get around. Also, am pretty sure an ambulance in an emergency will be allowed through. You all need to chill.

      • Juan says:

        Actually, the Open Streets advocates are the ones who need to chill. Things were perfectly fine as they were, then you had to go shake things up – you initiated the complaining.

        There are neighborhoods with minimal open space where this is a good idea. This is not one of them. To quote a tired WSR cliche, if you want more space, move to the suburbs. Don’t you have another revolution to fight?

        • RAL says:

          i’m not an “advocate” who messed with things and upset you all – i just think there are more important things to complain about. Give it a try. Plus I don’t think its about “walking around central park” so go there instead – it’s more about strolling down the avenue, stopping for brunch, lunch, dinner, shopping – and just some freedom from cars/taxis/buses for a few hours on a Sunday. FUN.

      • Boris says:

        People living downtown don’t have Riverside Park and Central Park within a couple blocks.

    38. Columbus Ave Resident says:

      I live on the part of Columbus Ave that will be closed down for this program. Sometimes I wonder if the people who make these decisions live on the same planet as the rest of us. First, we’re a block away from central park which has plenty of space to walk around if that’s the goal of this program. Second, was any type of traffic impact study done? The best way to get to this area from the Henry Hudson parkway is to turn south on 79th street (which ends at Columbus Ave), now all of those cars are going to have to take an suboptimal route that adds congestion to neighboring streets. Third, is the goal to turn us into a major party thoroughfare on Sundays? If you want to live in that type of environment then move downtown, the quiet family friendly nature of this neighborhood is a feature not a bug. Fourth, why does this have to last from 10am to 9pm? The open streets program on 96th to 110th on Amsterdam is from from 11am to 8:30pm, why do residents on my block have to deal with this inconvenience for 1.5hrs longer?

    39. Jim Cash says:

      This won’t get posted but I’ll submit it just the same. Will this closure stop the street gang of bikers harassing the citizenry?

      • lynn says:

        I had the same thought. There are so many issues here that should be addressed first. Buses and taxis are part of life in the city. I don’t understand why anyone needs more room to ‘stroll,’ or shop and eat in their own neighborhood. Maybe Sundays should be used to bring attention to all the homeless people in the area, in addition to the problem with the bikes and ATVs.:(

    40. Rosannina says:

      I still don’t understand the rationality of increasing traffic on adjacent avenues when Columbus Avenue is one block from NYC’s largest park

      • Josh says:

        The largest park in NYC is actually Pelham Bay Park, which is roughly 3 times larger than Central Park, which is actually only the 5th largest park in NYC.

      • UWSer says:

        There’s no evidence that open streets increase traffic. They most certainly reduce air pollution which should make everyone who walks/bikes/eats/shops on this strip of Columbus very happy

    41. UWSer says:

      Wonderful news!! It aligns with the day of the grand bazaar and the farmers market which brings tons of pedestrians to the area. Can’t wait for this to start.

    42. Native New Yorker says:

      Traffic in Manhattan so what. This is NYC. Traffic is nothing new. Our destiny being guided by fools is.