Sunset Park added to mayor’s Open Streets expansion

May 14, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
Sunset Park added to mayor’s Open Streets expansion
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Starting Thursday, May 14, Sunset Park will be added to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Open Streets, where streets will be open each day to pedestrians and cyclists with limited vehicle traffic.

De Blasio announced during his daily press conference on Wednesday, May 13, that Sunset Park will be added to the city’s plan to open 2 more miles of streets and an additional nine new miles of temporary protected bike lanes to pedestrians and cyclists.

“Now that warmer weather has arrived, New Yorkers will need more options to enjoy the outdoors at a safe, social distance,” de Blasio said. “We’re grateful to all our local partners, and we believe new bike lanes will lay the groundwork for a cycling surge in the months and years to come.”

The location for Sunset Park is on Sixth Avenue from 44th Street to 51st Street, totaling 0.34 in mileage, from 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Courtesy of Sunset Park BID

According to the mayor, the new Open Streets and bike lanes will bring New York City’s total to 30 miles of streets since the program was announced on April 27.

In April, de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced that 40 miles of streets citywide would be opened by the end of May to allow greater social distancing, with a plan to expand to a total of 100 miles in the weeks and months ahead.

Courtesy of NYC Mayor’s Office

Pedestrians and cyclists can use the roadbed of each open street. No through traffic is permitted, with remaining vehicle traffic limited to local deliveries, pick-ups/drop-offs, necessary city service, utility and emergency vehicles only. Such drivers are alerted to be hyper-vigilant and to drive at 5 MPH along these routes. Open streets hours will be from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. but may vary slightly depending on staff availability.

Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, who represents Sunset Park as well as Red Hook, Greenwood Heights and portions of Windsor Terrace, Dyker Heights, and Boro Park, is in favor of the initiative.

“Opening streets to the public relieves pressure from our parks so that New Yorkers can stretch and move while social distancing,” he told this paper. “This is especially needed in our immigrant communities, and I welcome the partial opening of 6th Avenue near Sunset Park. Moving forward, we must open streets in areas further from parks, to encourage people to stay near their homes and ensure equitable access to open spaces. I commend the mayor for listening to the council and quickly opening space for New Yorkers.”

“Rethinking how we share public spaces is one of the best ways we can help everyone stay healthy,” Sunset Park BID Executive Director David Estrada told this paper. “We also have to prepare for businesses to reopen and stay open. I visited Sunset Park’s Sixth Avenue today and was very happy to see the new open street program promoting better social distancing and a normal flow of deliveries.

Courtesy of Sunset Park BID

“New ways of using streets, sidewalks, areas adjacent to parks, schoolyards, and other open areas — including city owned properties and vacant retail spaces—should all be part of Brooklyn’s recovery and future success.”

“Open Safe Streets for our great residents!” tweeted the 72nd Precinct. “Location will be on 6 Ave, 44 St to 51 St from 8:00am to 8:00pm.

“As we continue our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, we are also working to help New Yorkers travel more safely by bringing new temporary bike lanes and open streets to more neighborhoods, including the South Bronx, Upper Manhattan, Bushwick and Kensington,” added NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “We thank the NYPD and all the BIDs and other community organizations that are stepping up to help us expand this important initiative.

“We especially want to hear from residents of neighborhoods around the five boroughs who want open streets but may not have formal community partners to help with implementation.”

Councilmember Brad Lander is also in support of the plan.

Courtesy of Sunset Park BID

“Already I’ve seen how thrilled children in our neighborhoods have been to have a little extra space to play, and commuters and recreational cyclists will be glad for additional routes with protection from nearby traffic,” he said.

However, some locals are not as enthusiastic with the idea.

Sunset Park resident Margaret Ann described it as a “disaster waiting to happen.”

“They should have shut down a less congested area,” she wrote on Facebook page Protect Sunset Park. “Trust me. People are not going to use it just for a walk. They’re going to think it’s a big block party and hang out, especially with the weather getting nicer and parking is crazy as it is and now it will be even more.”

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