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Car-Free Streets

Monday’s Headlines Kick off ‘Park Week’ at Streetsblog

12:07 AM EDT on May 10, 2021

File photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

OK, so it's not as graphic as "Shark Week" but it may be as bloody.

Yes, it's time for Open Streets "Park Week" on Streetsblog.

Starting today, we'll be focusing on local efforts in Jackson Heights to get Hizzoner to do the right thing and convert his "gold standard" open street on 34th Avenue into a linear park.

We've already written about the new petition drive, which calls for the roadway's conversation into a 24-7 linear park. Our old man editor has covered months of Department of Transportation "visioning" sessions, community board meetings, and anti-open streets groups that are calling for the program to be eliminated or truncated — and from those, it's clear that the new petition is the true compromise. Car drivers want access to every road all the time, so the compromise is that they give up one short portion of one road in a neighborhood that has among the lowest per-capital green space. The anti-open streets people can trick NY1, but they can't fool us.

Jackson Heights and Corona have experienced the highest increase in population density in New York City since 1970 (up 42 percent in Jackson Heights and 55 percent in Corona/Elmhurst), so you can't argue that these neighborhoods don't need more open space. After all, look at a map of the public open space — nearly 130,000 people live in this zone with just one paltry park:

There is so little public green space in Jackson Heights — one of New York's most-diverse neighborhoods. Map: Google/Streetsblog
There is so little public green space in Jackson Heights — one of New York's most-diverse neighborhoods. Map: Google/Streetsblog

And a majority of the residents don't have access to a car.  And lest we forget, car-free streets are a LOT safer:

All the area's elected officials say they support more open space, but not all of them have been clear on their positions — which is where Streetsblog's "Park Week" comes in. Today's coverage kicks off with an op-ed from Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas, who clearly sees the need to create more open space for her park-deprived neighborhood. Later this week, we'll hear from some other top officials, council candidates and (maybe just maybe) the State Senator whose opinion seems to matter most of all. And we'll have our usual breaking news coverage (which will keep the anti-open streets group busy on their private Facebook page).

Until then, here's the news from the weekend:

    • Boycott Nostrand Avenue: The Times ran a great story by Brooklyn Paper alum Julianne McShane on the city's slave-owning and slave-trading past that will remind us that the past isn't even past.
    • Christopher Robbins made his Streetsblog debut covering the dueling press conferences and police posturing of Andrew Yang and Eric Adams, but we have to give a hat-tip to the Daily News's coverage of the same topic (right).IMG_6485
    • Gothamist covered the police crackdown on vendors in Hudson Yards.
    • Meet a true legend of cycling — a guy who took a Citi Bike up Bear Mountain! (NY Post)
    • If you care about the future of our city (and want a tiny handful of streets to become pedestrianized), go see Jessica Cronstein of the DOT's Public Space Unit, who will be manning a table on University Place on May 15 to take public testimony about how the roadway should be made permanently car-free. (Village Sun)
    • NYC Transit President Sarah Feinberg finally stopped being completely alarmist about subway crime, parroting the de Blasian "safety in numbers" line (NY Post), though she also wrote an amNY op-ed that again reiterated the call for more cops. Meanwhile, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-S.I.) went in the other direction (away from reality, that is) (NY Post) and the mayor came up with a bizarre subway "travel buddy" plan (WSJ).
    • In one bit of good news (for sanity, at least), the Landmarks Preservation Commission at least declared that a parking lot is not worthy of historic preservation. (NY Times)
    • Here's a tone-deaf, pro-car, anti-transit, pro-parking op-ed from a candidate to succeed term-limited Antonio Reynoso in the Council. Does Scott Murphy honestly believe that the car owners in his Bushwick district are unfairly oppressed? If he really wants "to alleviate the burden of car ownership for the people who can least afford it," there's a much better and sustainable way to do it: create better transit, not a new subsidy for car owners. (Bushwick Daily)
    • Gotta love Staten Island: The mayor did the right thing by reducing the speed limit on Hylan Boulevard — and Rock pols blasted him for it. (Advance)
    • A Long Island driver backed over a kid, killing him. Of course, the driver was not charged. (NYDN)
    • Eater looked at the massive expansion of propane heaters that will become a fixture on New York City sidewalks now that outdoor dining is permanent. But it was a terrible oversight of the story that it did not mention the heaters' greenhouse gas implications — or that France is seeking to ban them for that reason.
    • Two drivers struck and killed famed Chicago architect Helmut Jahn while he was riding his bike in the Windy City. Jahn was best known in New York City for his CitySpire tower in Midtown. (Tribune)
    • And, finally, let's all celebrate Henry Rinehart's narration of a Streetfilms video that updates us all on the success of Mayor de Blasio's "Open Streets: Restaurants" initiative:

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the district where Scott Murphy is running.

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