Car-free "Open Streets" — a pandemic favorite — are drawing pushback
Early in the pandemic, lots of cities started limiting or banning traffic on particular streets, aiming to encourage cyclists and pedestrians to get outside in a socially distanced way — while patronizing local restaurants and businesses.
Yes, but: Now that cities like New York are making these measures permanent, complaints are mounting that so-called "safe streets" and "slow streets" programs are replacing old congestion problems with new ones.
- In Queens, residents "complain that 34th Avenue has turned into an obstacle course — with bicycles and scooters weaving around pedestrians," the New York Times reports.
- Those residents say that the city's "Open Streets" program — broadened by Mayor Bill de Blasio into "Open Boulevards" in May — "caused gridlock on surrounding streets and made it harder to find parking and get deliveries and services in a neighborhood where many depend on cars," per the Times.
- The situation "has provoked a backlash from some residents and drivers over what they see as an experiment gone too far," the Times article said.
By the numbers: Bloomberg reported in May that "a survey of 43 member cities of the National Association of City Transportation Officials found that 22 were planning on making Covid-era traffic changes permanent, while 16 more were considering it."