STREETFILMS: Open Streets for Restaurants Explained

Restaurants have embraced outdoor dining, and the mayor is giving them even more street space. But the city must ensure that private interests don't overwhelm public  needs in outdoor space. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.
Restaurants have embraced outdoor dining, and the mayor is giving them even more street space. But the city must ensure that private interests don't overwhelm public needs in outdoor space. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

“Open space is literally going to save the city,” a restaurant owner says at the opening of one of Streetfilms’ most ambitious coronavirus videos exploring the need for the city to reclaim roadways from cars and repurpose them as outdoor dining zones.

The restaurateur, John Clement of Clem’s, is one of more than a half-dozen hospitality industry workers and owners who have been begging city officials to vastly expand the open streets program — now at 21 miles of roadways, a plurality inside parks — to include hundreds of miles of roads for al fresco dining.

It will be a shot in the arm of a major industry and its workers — and a boost to the city, argue the eateries in Clarence Eckerson’s indelible film (which will hopefully make it into Mayor de Blasio’s press clips tomorrow).

Please watch and share:

City officials say multiple agencies — the Department of Transportation, the Economic Development Corporation, the Office of Nightlife and Small Business Services — are working on a plan. Mayor de Blasio was asked about opening up roadways for restaurants on NY1 on Monday night. Here’s what he said:

Mayor: It’s a really interesting idea, and it’s a very appealing idea. We’re not there yet because, as you know, it’s not going to be until June that we even can consider any kind of relaxation. And restaurants and cafes where that’s going to fit in the timeline, we’re not there yet. That, you know, anytime you’re talking about gathering people together, we’ve got to get it right in terms of health and safety. But I’m very intrigued — the idea of using outdoor space more, we have to find out the formula to do it safely. What we saw this weekend [people gathering at restaurants] wasn’t safe, and, again, NYPD, sheriff, other agencies will show up to any bars where people are congregating. When the authorities show up, you better scatter. If you don’t, you’re going to get us summons.

As a service to the mayor, we’ll embed a countdown clock set to zero out on June 7, when the state’s stay-at-home order may be over. Restaurants can’t wait until August for the city to figure this out:

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Streetfilms: Scenes From Summer Streets

|
Saturday was the second of three Summer Streets this August, with car-free streets along Park Avenue and Lafayette Street from 72nd Street to the Brooklyn Bridge. Couldn’t make it yourself? Clarence Eckerson Jr. from Streetfilms, as always, has got you covered. Clarence says he was particularly struck by how many people pedaled the route using […]

Give to Streetsblog and Streetfilms and Enter to Win a New PUBLIC Bike

|
As recently as 2007, there were no protected bike lanes in New York City, plans to enhance major bus routes were sitting on a shelf, and city transportation officials were still trying to do things like convert neighborhood commercial streets into high-speed traffic sewers. Streetsblog and Streetfilms helped change that. We raised expectations for our […]

This Week: Streetfilms, 34th Street, Shoup

|
This week’s calendar action kicks off in a big way with tonight’s Streetfilms soiree, followed by a Thursday trifecta and topped off with a visit from everyone’s favorite parking pundit. Tonight: Celebrate Streetfilms with The Open Planning Project and special guest Veronica Moss. 6 p.m. There are three events on Thursday: Brooklyn Community Board 2 […]

Get Your Tickets to the 10-Year Bash for Streetsblog and Streetfilms

|
Ten years ago, Mark Gorton, Aaron Naparstek, and Clarence Eckerson started a new media venture — Streetsblog and Streetfilms. The idea was to show that cities work best when streets are designed for people, not cars, and to press public officials to bring street design and transportation policy into the 21st century. No one had seen […]