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Doyers Street in Chinatown is part of the New York City's Open Streets program, which has ushered in public art installations and banished or limited vehicular traffic. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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."

Go deeper

No-tent zone resistance grows as city moves forward

Photo: Chelsea Cirruzzo/Axios

Calls from housing advocates to stop the creation of no-tent zones have increased since a man was hospitalized during a NoMa encampment clearing on Monday.

And D.C. officials say they will be moving ahead with another planned encampment clean-up on Nov. 4 with some protocol changes.

Why it matters: The man hospitalized was inside a tent when he was lifted by a piece of heavy machinery being used by the city to clear the homeless encampment on L Street.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated Oct 6, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The environmental benefits of bike sharing

A woman unlocks a CitiBike in New York in November 2020. Photo: John Lamparski/Getty Image

A new paper finds that New York's CitiBike bike-sharing system has prevented emissions of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide and saved energy.

The big picture: Bike sharing has become increasingly popular in cities around the world, and the new research calculates the measurable effect the systems can have on climate change and other environmental challenges.

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest — triggering widespread power outages and flooding.

Why it matters: The strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood.