Monday’s Headlines: How Were Your ‘Open Streets’ Edition?

Prospect Park West looking south from Garfield Place. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Prospect Park West looking south from Garfield Place. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

The weekend’s news was dominated by the launch of the mayor’s open-streets program (Streetsblog’s full team coverage from Saturday is here, and a Sunday follow-up, featuring Bill “I Believe in Enforcement in All Things” de Blasio, is here).

Generally, people seemed pleased, but underwhelmed (especially in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which is filled with cars!).

But the potential is there, if the city really does build out 100 miles of car-free spaces. You could see the beginnings of a better city in a simple six-second video we posted of kids innocently, happily, fearlessly playing in the street (the honk you’ll hear towards the end is from an impatient driver).


Other media outlets covered the launch, too. The Daily News played it straight, which is good because it means that this is not controversial. (The story even quoted Doug Gordon, but the reporter didn’t realize that he was THE Doug Gordon, which was a missed opportunity.)

De Blasio didn’t use cops to police the open streets — but earned deserved blowback for deploying so many of them in parks over the weekend, which was (irony alert!) the pro-cop NY Post‘s angle (the Daily News played that straight, too). The show of force was excessive, even though people are not social distancing with anything near the urgency that could get us through this crisis. Indeed, did you see some of these pictures in the Times (and NY1) coverage of New Yorkers’ willful disregard of the virus regulations?

It’s wrong to have police involved in the public health crisis, as Council Member Brad Lander pointed out in an epic Twitter thread.

Lander’s post came after excessive policing — is there any other kind? — was on full display as two cops beat a man they claim wasn’t socially distancing himself from a woman on an East Village sidewalk (Gothamist, NYDN, NY Post, amNY). Council Member Carlina Rivera is calling for a full investigation of the cops — with good reason. The video would be shocking … if we hadn’t seen such brutality so many times before.

Do Lee of the Biking Public Project also had some excellent perspective:

And in other news over the weekend:

  • The Times offered a deep dive on how to bring the subways and buses back, even if customers are initially nervous about being sardined with their fellow New Yorkers for a while. MTA Chairman Pat Foye had an op-ed in amNY about the challenges.
  • Two homeless people died over the weekend on the subway, setting up yet another battle between Mayor de Blasio and the MTA, which will do little to help … homeless people. (NYDN, NY Post)
  • Ginia Bellafante in the New York Times said Mayor de Blasio’s delayed and minimal open streets program shows a complete lack of imagination that will haunt him and this city when this is all over. The takeaway: “If we can’t quickly summon cars off the street … at a time when no one is going anywhere, how can we expect the city to brilliantly and flexibly reimagine itself once the pandemic is over?”
  • Gov. Cuomo doesn’t ride the subway very often, but he got his picture taken over the weekend helping to clean one. (NY Post)
  • ICYMI, the Post’s “hero of the day” on Friday was delivery worker Eric Ortiz.
  • Even the line in Central Park to get a mask was mobbed! (West Side Rag)
  • The length between “please visit Green-Wood Cemetery” (Streetsblog, April 12) to “stop visiting Green-Wood Cemetery” was so short that you couldn’t socially distance within it! (Gothamist, May 3)
  • European cities like Brussels and Paris are looking to adopt the bike-friendly Dutch model for people to get around post-coronavirus (Politico). The UK’s transportation secretary is issuing emergency funding for pop-up bike lanes (Forbes). France is even paying people 50 euros each for bike repairs (New York Times). Aaron Gordon put it all in perspective on Twitter.

  • Meanwhile, Los Angeles is stopping neighborhoods from closing streets to cars and opening them up to pedestrians and cyclists. (L.A. Times)
  • Uber drivers are in a precarious spot, balancing health risks and disappearing fares with bills, families to support and uncertain access to benefits. (New Yorker)
  • Cyclist David Gellman has a real problem with some e-bikes! (For the record: we agree that anyone exceeding the speed limit or traveling against the flow of traffic is likely doing something dangerous). (Riverdale Press)
  • He’s walkin’ heah! Yes, Joey Pants was hit by a car driver (not by a car, Daily News) in Connecticut on Friday.