On Monday, a coalition of over 80 advocacy groups and nonprofit organizations challenged the next mayor, borough presidents and city council members to commit to reallocating 25 percent of street space from cars to pedestrians by 2025.
The coalition is called Transportation Alternatives, and the 5-part challenge they’re issuing is called “NYC 25×25.” It consists of the following 5 components:
- Recognize that the use of New York City’s streets is fundamentally inequitable;
- Envision a more just and resilient approach to street management;
- Agree to work with neighborhoods to create new public spaces that meet community needs;
- Speed our economic recovery by ensuring that our streets work for residents and businesses; and
- Reallocate 25 percent of car space to better use by 2025.
The Coalition website states that “By meeting this challenge, New York City’s next leaders will take a bold first step to correct a historic inequality. In a moment of overlapping crises — health, social, economic, environmental — the question for our city’s future leaders is not whether we can be bold enough to shift course, but whether we can afford not to. Our finite public spaces must benefit the many, not the few. The future of New York City depends on it.”
“This is a watershed moment for New York City,” Danny Harris, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, told Gothamist/WNYC. “We need to look at this intersection of COVID, of racial injustice, economic inequities, and ask some serious questions about the future of our city and our budget and we need a new crop of leaders who are willing to look at streets as an asset, instead of a liability.”
In the Transportation Alternatives report, repurposing 25 percent of car space could create 13 Central Parks or 12 Flushing Meadows, Corona or Flushing Meadow Parks. Public space that’s been devoted to cars includes 19,000 lane miles for driving and three million free on-street parking spaces which comes out to 1.5 spaces for every car in the city. This is while only a minority of residents drive a car to work.
The key findings of the report reveal that people who live outside New York City drive 4.4 million cars and trucks through the city on a daily basis. Traffic crashes cost the City’s economy $4.29 billion annually, and NYC’s fatality rate is also about a quarter of the national rate.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he hadn’t read the proposal on Monday morning, but he broadly supports efforts to move away from cars to open public space and build up public transportation, saying “this is the way of the future, unquestionably,” as reported by amnewyork.
Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang called the plan “admirable,” per StreetsBlog, and said he was “looking forward to digging into the details.”
The city has been rolling out an Open Streets plan during Covid to allow for greater social distancing amidst the pandemic. Open Streets was slated to return to the UWS last December but the Department of Transportation ended up postponing the plan. The goal was to reopen the roadbed on West End Avenue from 88th to 95th Streets for pedestrians.