Stringer Summer Plan: Expanded Open Streets and More Open Fire Hydrants

Scott Stringer think the New York City summer could use more of this.
Scott Stringer think the New York City summer could use more of this.

Comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer wants city funding for open streets and more splashing around in front of fire hydrants — the latest plank of his platform to give every New Yorker a summer to remember.

Stringer, who also pushed this week for mobile pools on open streets, added more open streets, more open fire hydrants and more safe cycling into his Summer in the City agenda.

“This summer is going to be about finally gathering outside with friends and family — and our city should do all we can to ensure that New Yorkers are able to find that open space in their communities,” said Stringer.

With a nod to the Open Streets Coalition, Stringer said the city should expand the car-free play streets to neighborhoods that lack the additional open space, and support the effort with money for volunteers managing the program and “signage, benches, bathrooms, chairs, planters, and improved barriers.” The Coalition recently asked the mayor for city funding and support from municipal employees, along with more permanent infrastructure for the streets, the latter of which the comptroller said he wanted to direct capital funds to.

The comptroller is the first candidate to suggest the city give out more fire hydrant sprinkler caps, with his suggestion that the FDNY can open more than the 300 that New York’s Bravest typically open per summer. A sprinkler cap keeps an opened fire hydrant from wasting gallons of water at a time and wrecking the water pressure for the johnny pump. Read all about it in this charming 10-year-old blog post. (Streetsblog also wrote about the paucity of sprinkler caps last year.)

Stringer also called for bike boulevards in each borough, something that Mayor de Blasio announced in his State of the City speech, but has yet to shared details on. In Stringer’s vision, the boulevards are “significant car-free arteries reserved exclusively for bikes — with allowances for delivery vehicles traveling at 5 miles per hour — designed in ways to link to each other or to other protected bike lanes in every neighborhood.” Stringer called the mayor’s current bike boulevard timeline “glacial” and “unacceptable.”

Along with bike boulevards, the mayoral candidate (who still needs to take a ride on a Citi Bike) also said the city should do more bike education classes in the vein of what Bike New York currently offers, so that new cyclists can learn the rules of the road.

The open streets plan also continues Stringer’s push for more public space on the streets, a subject he dipped into with his call for aggressive bus, bike and pedestrian-first street redesigns in commercial districts around the city. It’s also not the first time Stringer has weighed in on saving the summer, an issue he waded into last year when he called for opening beaches and pools at a time when the mayor was keeping them closed.

Stringer is not the first 2021 mayoral candidate with progressive ideas about open space and cycling. For instance, Kathryn Garcia and Dianne Morales have both embraced Transportation Alternatives’s NYC 25 x 25 plan to repurpose 25 percent of the city streetscape from automobile movement and storage. Andrew Yang endorsed the idea of city funding for open streets and promised to  bring open streets to neighborhoods without them in his first year in office. And Maya Wiley has suggested that her proposed $10-billion in capital spending and new Office of Public Space Management can to take back streets from cars and give more human-centered uses. Shaun Donovan has plans to make New York truly a 15-minute city.

Ray McGuire has not issued any transportation-related plans.

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