Some NYC Residents Say Drivers Don't Respect 'Open Streets' Rules

Steve Burns
June 29, 2020 - 1:59 pm

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The city has opened up dozens of miles of streets to pedestrians, but it appears to be having trouble making sure drivers follow the rules.

    Since announcing the Open Streets plan in April, the city has opened up 67 miles of streets between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. in neighborhoods hard hit by the coronavirus crisis to give residents more space to enjoy the outdoors while practicing social distancing.

    No through traffic is permitted, with the exception of local deliveries, pick-ups/drop-offs, necessary city service, utility, and emergency vehicles, which must drive at 5 MPH along the Open Streets. 

    One Upper West Side resident, named Ellen, walks along the middle of West 103rd Street almost every day to get to Riverside Park and even with a blue NYPD barrier at the front of the block, she said all too often cars try to squeeze through to get to Riverside Drive.

    "Only a handful of times and they seem to be really local traffic," she said. "You see people are just not paying attention to the signs, you know, they are selfish."

    It's the same story at many other Open Streets where the wooden barriers have been moved or even left in pieces on the sidewalk.

    The NYPD said in a statement that they replace broken barriers as they become aware of them.

    Mayor Bill de Blasio's original pilot had police posted at each street, but the expanded program did away with the enforcement, leaving it to block associations and community groups.

    In a tweet, the mayor's deputy press secretary Mitch Schwartz said, "We have 67 MILES of Open Streets. That's a lot of barriers. Some get knocked over; it happens. DOT monitors the closures w in-person teams & online. They work w PD & others to fix issues as needed. More to do. But program is overwhelmingly popular & most drivers respect it." (sic)

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