The first seven of at least 40 miles of Big Apple streets that the city will close to vehicles to let pedestrians and cyclists roam them during the coronavirus crisis will open Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said — but not in time for the beautiful weekend weather, with temps expected to climb into the 70s.
Of the initial 7.2 miles that will open to pedestrians for social distancing purposes, 4.5 of those miles will be inside six city parks — Fort Tyron Park in Manhattan, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and Forest Park in Queens, Callahan-Kelly Park in Brooklyn, Grant Park in The Bronx and Silver Lake Park on Staten Island — where roadways are currently open to cars.
The other 2.7 miles of open streets will be on roadways adjacent to the following green spaces: Williamsbridge Oval in The Bronx, Court Square Park in Queens, Carl Schurz Park, Highbridge Park and the Lt. William Tighe Triangle in Manhattan, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and Stapleton Waterfront Park on Staten Island.
“On the open streets, the goal here is more space, more social distancing, but safe,” de Blasio told reporters during a conference call Friday, adding that the endeavor “is going to be well-protected and well-regulated space and that’s part of why we have to do this in stages to get it right.”
When asked why the streets would not open this weekend, when the weather is expected to be warm and sunny, the mayor said, “I’ll see if there is a way to speed up, but that would only happen if there is a way to enforce it properly.”
Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, who was also on the call, noted that if emergency vehicles and delivery drivers need to get through the closed streets, they will still be able to.
“Agencies and other partners including community groups will help manage the barricades,” Trottenberg said.
De Blasio announced earlier this week that he struck a deal with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson to close or modify at least 40 miles of city streets to give New Yorkers more space to socially distance.
The goal, de Blasio has said, will be to expand to 100 miles of open streets before the end of the pandemic.
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