Group Rallies Against An ‘Open Street’ on the UWS

  Last modified on January 16th, 2023
open streets petition uws

At 103rd and Broadway (Google Maps)

In 2020, New York City introduced its “Open Streets” program in response to an increased need for publicly accessible, outdoor space. As 311 describes it, the program “closes streets to vehicle traffic to make it safer and easier for pedestrians and cyclists to stay active and enjoy activities in their community.” Sounds idyllic for some, but a group of Upper West Side residents have recently banded together to prevent such a transformation on their very own block.


The group, which has adopted the name “UWS4Parking,” has rallied against the City’s recently approved plans to designate West 103rd Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Riverside Drive part of the Open Streets program. Per a city presentation on this proposal, the Department of Transportation’s goals for this stretch are to “prioritize pedestrians + cyclists,” “expand public space and add amenities,” and “slow through traffic.” While this plan will not close the streets entirely to traffic, it will include an expansion of the sidewalks into what is now the street area.

And therein lies the trouble. Representatives for UWS4Parking are concerned that Open Streets will mean a sharp decrease in available parking spots for residents of West 103rd Street and the surrounding area. This is exacerbated by other recent changes in the neighborhood, which include CitiBike racks and outdoor dining structures taking up parking spots, and local garages closing during the pandemic. The group also emphasizes that the area designated for Open Streets is flanked by parks on both sides, and neighborhood residents already have ample access to public green space.

Beyond their issues with the proposal itself, members of UWS4Parking feel that the process by which this designation was made did not involve enough community input. In their experience, many community members did not know how the Open Streets program would impact local parking until they started receiving notices from the DOT that their cars were going to be towed. While a group called ParkToPark103 has been leading information sessions, tabling in public areas, and hosting outreach events for over a year, UWS4Parking members did not find the information available to be explicit or accessible.


The Open Streets program has been considered yet another part of New York City’s “war on cars.” Those for reducing private vehicle usage point toward the imbalance in publicly available bike lanes versus parking spots, car related deaths, and the effects of car pollution on city residents as just some of the reasons behind their efforts. On the other side of the issue, in the words of Assembly Member David I. Weprin, “There are still parts of New York City where people rely on their cars.” UWS4Parking members also indicated that the public transportation available to them does not meet their needs, so cars, and therefore parking spaces, remain a necessity.

It seems this may be the case for many on West 103rd. UWS4Parking has already gathered over 500 signatures on a petition voicing their objection to Open Streets on their block. The plan, however, has already been approved as of August 2022, and implementation was slated to begin in September, so it is unclear what next steps may be possible.

The folks behind UWS4Parking are working on a Facebook page, but for the time being, if people want to be involved they should email


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