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NYPD Inconsistent on Actually Opening the Mayor’s ‘Open Streets’

12:20 AM EDT on May 18, 2020

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

The NYPD was guilty of some pretty shoddy execution in the first weekend of the agency's involvement in the mayor's second attempt at an open streets program.

The Streetsblog tips line was burning all weekend long with reports of promised open streets that suddenly didn't get closed to thru car traffic as promised by the mayor on Wednesday last week. More than seven of the latest 12 miles of play streets were supposed to be overseen by the NYPD, but in at least two cases, Bronx precinct commanders appeared to be in defiance of the mayor.

In Morris Park, a member of the Community Board 11 Facebook group posted that the 49th Precinct had bailed on closing Rhinelander Avenue to cars — a decision that came after Streetsblog's coverage of local Council Member Mark Gjonaj opposition to the safe streets program.

CB11 notice

The 49th Precinct did not respond to a request for comment via Twitter.

In the 52nd Precinct, two roadways — Creston Road between Fordham and Kingsbridge roads and the previously announced Williamsbridge Oval — were being used by cars, according to an area resident (whose prior posts suggested that the 52nd Precinct is not taking open streets very seriously):

Both Bronx developments happened after the 88th Precinct in Brooklyn failed to set up barricades on Thursday and Friday on South Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, according to a resident.

The NYPD declined to comment, but a City Hall spokesman said the problem had been taken care of. (Update: That turned out to be true, according to a Fort Greene reader, who tweeted at us):

But by Monday morning, a Streetsblog reader wrote that the barricades had not been deployed on time ... again.

"The City Hall spokesman is wrong," wrote the Fort Greene resident. "The 88th Precinct cops have been slow to set up the barricades every morning since this started Thursday. I've seen them coming by a little before noon and put them out (vs. advertised 8 am start time). Some days barricade vigilantes do it earlier. They are not yet out today [Monday]. I am sitting near my window hearing cars go by. However, they are quite prompt in coming by to remove them at 8 p.m."

And on Saturday — two days into its participation in the program, the 66th Precinct failed to open up East Seventh Street in Brooklyn, between Ditmas and Caton avenues, according two two residents of the neighborhood, each sending emails of concern to Streetsblog.

And in Long Island City, the 108th Precinct failed to set up barriers to block thru-traffic on 27th Street, according to Streetsblog reader Jason Dumelie, who sent pictures verifying that car drivers were using the roadway between Hunter Street and Queens Plaza like nothing had changed.

That said, the program appears to be operating as designed in many areas. When they weren't spending time enjoying the 34th Avenue open street, residents of Jackson Heights and Corona were on Twitter praising it.

And Streetsblog found joy in Carroll Gardens, Park Slope and Prospect Park South as the open streets created space for kids to play without fear — prompting a music video from our in-house satire band, The Speeders.

Streetsblog will be updating this story on Monday as we hear more.

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