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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that the city will close at least 40 miles of streets to car traffic to create more outdoor spaces for New Yorkers during the coronavirus outbreak.
De Blasio said the effort will begin with streets in and around parks, with the goal of eventually reaching 100 miles as the weather warms up.
The move comes after a push from the City Council, which last week introduced a bill to open 75 miles of city streets to give people better access to safe options for outdoor recreation, especially given the crowds in New York’s parks over the last several weeks.
As part of the new initiative, some streets will close completely while others will have expanded sidewalks; de Blasio also said the city will expand bike lanes.
City Hall will work with the City Council and the Department of Transportation to identify the neighborhoods where streets will close.
This is New York’s second attempt to open up major streets. Earlier this month, the city abandoned an 11-day pilot program to open up several dozen blocks to pedestrians, citing excessive pressure on Police Department resources and enforcement issues.
That 40 miles is just a tiny fraction of the 6,000 miles of streets in New York City, the New York Times reports.
New York isn’t the first city to employ this tactic during the pandemic. Earlier this month, Oakland, California, announced plans to open up 74 miles of streets to pedestrians. The New York Times NYT editorial board has also argued in favor of the practice, citing stats from Streetlight Data indicating that traffic has declined by 83% in San Francisco, 77% in Washington, D.C., and 67% in New York.