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Queens Officials Want 75 Miles of City Streets to Be Used for Cyclists and Pedestrians Only

Social Distancing Downtown NYC (Twitter: NYC Mayor’s Office)

April 17, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

Several Queens officials are backing legislation that would ban vehicles on up to 75 miles of city streets to create space for pedestrians.

Council Members Costa Constantinides, Daniel Dromm and Peter Koo are supporting legislation that would block vehicles from certain roads so that the public can use them with enough space to safely socially distance from one another.

They said that there is currently a lack of outdoor open space available for the public to use for exercise and that the new measures are needed as a matter of urgency.

“Right now it’s impossible on many of our cramped streets, which both endangers those who must go outside and discourages others from getting fresh air, said Council Member Costa Constantinides.

The proposal is being introduced by Speaker Corey Johnson and Manhattan Council Member Carlina Rivera who said that the council can no longer wait on Mayor Bill de Blasio to act and instead wants to force the city into action.

“While we want to work collaboratively with the administration to open streets, this issue is so important and so urgent that we are taking legislative action to make it happen ourselves,” Johnson said in a statement Friday.

De Blasio said in a press briefing Friday he would look at the legislation but that he had several safety concerns including the danger of blocking roads that emergency vehicles might need to use. He also said he was not convinced the measures justified the use of law enforcement officers that would be needed to police the streets.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

De Blasio piloted a similar program on March 27 but scrapped it 10 days later because he felt that police officers could be better used elsewhere.

However, Johnson said that other states and countries have successfully implemented similar measures and said he sees no reason why the program cannot be applied to New York City. Washington D.C., Austin, Cleveland and Denver, and several other cities have shut streets down for the use of social distancing purposes.

The proposal also has the backing of bicycle advocacy group Transportation Alternatives who said that council members are seeking to lead and not play catch-up as the crisis unfolds.

“We call on the City Council and the mayor to implement this plan without delay, and, over time, to expand the program to support the needs of all New Yorkers,” the group’s Communications Director Joe Cutrufo said Friday.

“Streets account for roughly 80 percent of New York City’s public space, and their ambitious open streets program will give 75 miles of streets back to people, their rightful owner, when New Yorkers desperately need them,” he said in a statement.

The legislation is set to be introduced at the Council’s April 22 Stated Meeting, according to Johnson.

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6 Comments

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NYCongestion

Where will all that traffic be rerouted to? To the residential streets that are already congested and too narrow for the traffic it already has? Perhaps there should be legislation on all these ride-sharing companies that added all these extra vehicles onto these roads and now most people sit in a car rather using mass transit.

Reply
Juan

I grew up my whole in NYC and if I wanted to run, bike, or whatever, there was and will always be plenty of room. This is simply a push to punish drivers over some made up scenario that there ain’t no room. So tax paying car owners, who actually subsidize road maintenance are suddenly not considered “rightful owners.” You think that’s going away after all of this? They destroyed Skillman avenue and most parts of Queens Blvd with this nonsense.

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CHARLES CASTRO

This kind of thinking is what has led us to where we are today, mundane, myopic, individuals in politics who lack vision. Have you not learned anything from this pandemic? Are you not ashamed that Queens is number one in COVID19 cases, deaths in NYC and in the United States of America. Or are you people just plain stupid. I say before you make one more inch of bike lanes, you better think about adding a new hospital to the LIC/ Astoria area, because you should be able to see, that one hospital doesn’t cut it. We are number one, and you simpletons completely ignore that. Costa Constantinides, Liz Crowley, Donovan Richards all three of you have all accepted massive contributions from big developers, the same big developers who constructed a huge number of massive buildings, which in turn have brought tens of thousands of new residents, into Queens. In the meantime our neighborhoods have grown exponentially and not one of you has done anything to address the massive influx of new residents. Take Long Island City, Astoria, Woodside, Sunnyside, for instance while these neighborhoods are now so over crowded that it is a nightmare to get around, find parking, and commute. However, our services have remained the same, no additional police, fire fighters, EMS, sanitation, buses, trains, and certainly no new hospitals.

In-fact hospitals have shut down and, not one of you has shown the least bit of interest or concern. Not one of you has done anything for your districts with regards to health care and readiness for a pandemic, or an outbreak of disease. Now as we are faced with the COVID-19 crisis, and all of your constituents are paying the price. People are dying because of your greed, lack of vision, and lack of concern.

What have you three done in the last eight years as elected officials? You have prioritized bike lanes, hundreds of millions of dollars on bike lanes. That people barely use. Speed cameras, red light cameras, drag queen story time hour, and trans-gender bathrooms.
All of the important things in life that none of us could live without.

And I say again, the three of you collectively have done nothing concerning new hospitals, or the lack of hospitals. Your ineffectiveness as leader speaks in volumes and that is why Queens is number one in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the five boroughs, and the USA.

Any Queens resident who even considers voting for any of you for Queens Borough President has to seriously have their head examined. I urge you to vote for anyone but these three charlatans, who have clearly failed us. As for Peter Koo, and Danny Drumm, Your districts are also very much in need of additional hospitals. I suggest that you get your heads out of your buts and work on what Queens needs, HOSPITALS.

Reply
Doug La

No enough is enough you who want this are the ones responsible for the cyclist dying the are unprotected they don’t follow the rules of the road and the are un policed they do what ever they want knowing that they will never get in trouble and that is your fault

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