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2021 Mayoral Campaign

LANDSLIDE: Now Eric Adams Has Also Signed the 34th Avenue Linear Park Petition, Dashing Anti-Open Streets Group

12:01 AM EDT on June 15, 2021

Mayoral front-runner Eric Adams has now signed the linear park petition.

Mayoral front-runner Eric Adams has signed the petition calling for the open street on 34th Avenue in Queens to be turned into a linear park, the latest nail in the coffin carrying the hopes of anti-safety, pro-car activists who seek to destroy what the city calls its "gold standard" open street.

With Adams now joining Kathryn Garcia, Andrew Yang, Maya Wiley, Scott Stringer and Art Chang by signing the petition, the next mayor has committed to turning the 34th Avenue open street into a linear park rather than giving in to a small number of neighborhood car owners who put their ability to park above their neighbors' needs to breathe clean air and have space to recreate.

The Brooklyn Borough President was clear that his support centered on equity:

"The pandemic reinforced the importance of open green space as a public health necessity — not a luxury — to combat chronic co-morbidities that are persistent in underserved communities of color," he told Streetsblog in a statement. "Thirty-Fourth Avenue has been a success story in the open streets program, and it is a prime opportunity for us to go upstream on public health by establishing a linear park there."

Adams also suggested that creating grand open space would not be a one-off.

"Jackson Heights will be a model of how we build on the open streets concept and design safer, more livable communities where everyone can raise healthy children and families," he said.

News of Adams's signing of the petition comes just after Wiley had signed the petition and appeared with supporters in Jackson Heights on Sunday, but Adams's John Hancock on the petition carries potentially greater weight: he and the current mayor are allies, and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards is an Adams supporter.

"Eric Adams comes from the same neighborhood that I come from, and we both understand the importance of equity in open space," Richards told Streetsblog. "But for Eric, it's more than that. He's a vegan. He's healthy. He bikes. So when he says he supports open space and recreation, he's not just saying that because he's running for mayor. That's him! He's not pretending."

Richards said that shortly after he wrote his clarion call op-ed for Streetsblog in support of the linear park, he contacted Adams, whom he endorsed earlier in the campaign, to tell him how important the issue is to him and his constituents.

"We sent it over and without any hesitation, he signed on," Richards said. "This is one of the highest priorities I have, and we will work hand-in-hand to get it done."

The neighborhood's Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas, Council Member Danny Dromm, one of the candidates to succeed Dromm (Shekar Krishnan), and many every day residents support the linear park, too — but Adams and Richards's support is crucial because the city DOT recently announced that it would not present a plan until this fall, a plan that would be implemented by the next mayor. Given that all the top candidates support the linear park, it increasingly seems like the project will move forward.

Of course, it's not surprising that so many mayoral candidates have signed on given the political appeal of reclaiming road space from cars (mostly stored cars that are doing nothing but getting in the way) and using it for public benefit. That concept is the idea behind he Transportation Alternatives' NYC 25X25 plan, which seeks to repurpose 25 percent of the roadway space currently allotted to cars. (Adams supports that proposal, too.)

If 25 percent of public space is going to be repurposed in the next mayor's first term, a lot of specific projects — like the linear park plan — will have to be undertaken.

We calculated the public roadway space in Jackson Heights that is given to drivers vs. what is given to pedestrians and cyclists.
We calculated the public roadway space in Jackson Heights that is given to drivers vs. what is given to pedestrians and cyclists.

New Yorkers of all races and income levels tell pollsters that their lives are better when car traffic is reduced around them. For instance, in a recent survey commissioned by Streetsblog from the respected polling firm Data for Progress, we learned the following:

    • 67 percent of voters said the city was right to close some roadways to traffic to create space for restaurants and people. The support was strong across the board:
      • 66 percent of voters making less than $50,000 and 67 percent of voters making more than $150,000 agreed.
      • 64 percent of Latino voters agreed (versus only 23 percent who didn't)
      • The support was also strong in all age groups.
    • 72 percent of voters say they prefer "livable streets that prioritize people's needs and their safety."
      • The number rose to 77 percent among Black or African-American voters.
      • And 72 percent of voters support livable streets in all income levels.

What is even more interesting is the racial breakdown of that survey. The overwhelming majority of voters who identified themselves as Latino or Hispanic support open streets (and, indeed, a majority — nearly 58 percent — of the people who live in Census blocks that straddle 34th Avenue identify as Hispanic or Latino). No matter how Streetsblog asked the question, we received largely the same answer from these voters, as the charts below show:

Poll: Data for Progress
Poll: Data for Progress
Poll: Data for Progress
Poll: Data for Progress
Poll: Data for Progress
Poll: Data for Progress
Poll: Data for Progress
Poll: Data for Progress

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