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Bill de Blasio

Mayor’s Answer on His Underwhelming ‘Open Streets’ Plan is Still Underwhelming — As an Army of Cops Enforces Roads

10:45 AM EDT on March 27, 2020

The newly created open space on Bushwick Avenue is overpoliced. Photo: Julianne Cuba

The mayor has finally discussed his reasoning behind why he created only 1.5 miles of car-free streets in a city with 6,000 miles of roads — and his failure to provide more open space relates to how he sees open space in general: it's dangerous!

On WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show this morning, the mayor responded to a question from the host that he rejected about 17 hours earlier from Streetsblog at his daily press conference: Why are the only stretches of car-free space short portions of Park Avenue, the Grand Concourse, Bushwick Avenue and 34th Avenue in Queens?

The mayor started by saying that he wished he could create lots more space so "people would have a new place to go and they spread out and that's great and that wonderful."

But then he continued:

But the flip of that is you create a new place for people to congregate but it doesn't have enforcement unlike, you know, parks and defined areas where we know we have to enforce. So what we've done working with the City Council is define a small group of streets to begin, add in enforcement to them — and remember, every time you have to go and enforce something else, you're stretching your resources. If it works well, we can keep adding to it. But what I'd hate to see is we think we're solving a problem and we're creating a brand new problem of a place for people to hang out that doesn't have a police officer or a parks officer to keep people separated.

What do you think of this answer? Do New Yorkers need armed guards to keep them from violating social distancing rules? Or do they just need space so they can, you know, socially distance? Please respond in the comments below.

It's clear that enforcement is a profound concern of the mayor, given what we're seeing on the streets: Streetsblog reporter Julianne Cuba visited the short stretch of Bushwick Avenue this morning and found it to be empty of civilians, yet crawling with cops. There were five NYPD vehicles and at least NINETEEN NYPD employees making sure the public isn't getting out of hand in the barricaded, car-free portion between Johnson and Flushing avenues (see photo above and below):

Photo: Julianne Cuba
Photo: Julianne Cuba

There are also lots of cops enforcing the short stretch of 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights, according to a Streetsblog correspondent.

This is 34th Avenue in Queens.
This is 34th Avenue in Queens.

"It’s completely disgusting how many cops there are here," the resident said.

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