Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 25: A street remains mostly empty in midtown during the coronavirus pandemic on April 25, 2020 in New York City. COVID-19 has spread to most countries around the world, claiming over 200,000 lives with infections close to 2.9 million people. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)

A street remains mostly empty in midtown during the coronavirus pandemic on April 25, 2020 in New York City. (Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images)

'Environmentally Just' Move Will Open 100 Miles of NYC Streets to Pedestrians as Social Distancing Enters Warmer Months

Mayor Bill de Blasio made the announcement of the new policy on Monday. 

Eoin Higgins

In a win for advocates of a more walkable urban environment, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that he will open up to 100 miles of streets in all five boroughs to accomodate outdoor recreation as social distancing from the coronavirus outbreak meets the warmer months. 

"Over the next month, we will create a minimum of 40 miles of open streets," de Balsio said. "And as the crisis continues, the goal is to get up to 100 miles."

"We will focus first on streets in and around our parks," the mayor added.

Opening the streets to pedestrians is not expected to result in a relaxing of social distancing guidelines in place in the city and is in keeping with the restrictions.

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to cripple New York, city streets have been largely empty of cars, leading to increased calls for opening up roadways from advocates like City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who threatened Sunday to go over the mayor's head to the Gov. Andrew Cuomo to open up more pedestrian space for New York residents. 

Johnson welcomed de Blasio's announcement, saying in a statement Monday that he was "thrilled."

"As the weather gets nicer and this unprecedented crisis stretches on longer, we need to do everything in our power to keep our neighbors safe and healthy," said Johnson. "This announcement is a great starting point for the ongoing conversation about how we share our public spaces during this pandemic and in a post-coronavirus future."

As Common Dreams has reported, other cities around the world have taken a more green approach to managing their urban centers as the coronavirus outbreak sweeps across the globe. In Milan, city planners are keeping at least 21 miles of streets car-free as the Northern Italian metropolis releases its citizens from lockdown.

Danny Harris, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, told NYC Street Blog that the decision should be seen as a first step in a more pedestrian-friendly city.

"In New York, it is high time to recapture precious space from the reign of cars and return it to people," said Harris. "The result will be a more prosperous, healthy, community-minded, environmentally just, and resilient city for all New Yorkers."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Scientists to BlackRock Vice Chairman: New Fossil Fuel Development 'Incompatible' With 1.5°C

"The only responsible course of action is to do everything in our power to stop fossil fuel expansion and further emissions."

Jessica Corbett ·

Goldman Prize Awarded to Activists Who Showed Nature's 'Amazing Capability to Regenerate'

"While the many challenges before us can feel daunting, and at times make us lose faith, these seven leaders give us a reason for hope and remind us what can be accomplished in the face of adversity."

Julia Conley ·

Faith Leaders Call for Federal Election Monitors in Georgia to Protect Black Voters

"It is imperative that our election this November is monitored to preserve ballot integrity and ensure ballot security."

Brett Wilkins ·

'Inaction Is Bought': Here Are the Receipts on NRA's Purchase of GOP

"The issue is money in politics," said Nina Turner after the nation's latest mass killing of students and teachers. Right-wing lawmakers are "allowing children to die because of the gun lobby."

Kenny Stancil ·

'This Is on You!' Beto Interrupts Abbott Press Conference on Texas Massacre

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke accused Texas' GOP leaders of "doing nothing and offering us nothing" in the wake of the massacre at Robb Elementary School.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo