Coronavirus Update: As NYC Considers Shutting Playgrounds, Some Streets Are Closed To Traffic To Provide Safe Places To Get Outside
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Four streets across New York City will close to traffic to help residents coping with cabin fever amid the coronavirus pandemic get some fresh air, and keep a safe distance.
Police brought tools they need to close a street in every borough, minus Staten Island, giving space-deprived New Yorkers a bit more outdoor walking space where they must continue to keep a safe distance from others.
Four streets become pedestrian promenades for a four day pilot program, a test that begins Friday morning.
The following streets will be closed to vehicular traffic from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the pilot program:
- Manhattan: Park Avenue between 28th Street and 34th Street
- Brooklyn: Bushwick Avenue, from Johnson Avenue to Flushing Avenue
- Queens: 34th Avenue from 73rd Street to 80th Street
- The Bronx: Grand Concourse from East Burnside to 184th Street
The rules include no thru-traffic, so pickups and drop-offs move to corners and cross streets.
It's a little different for the Bronx location, where service roads will remain open, allowing parked cars to stay and vehicles including buses to get through.
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It's a move being done to help the public's overall health at a time of streets that are nearly empty, but parks are not.
The new program takes pressure off Central Park and other recreation areas that are getting too busy.
Danny Harris, the executive director of the group Transportation Alternatives, says because of that it is not enough to have four closed streets, which together make up a total of 1.6 Miles.
"There are 8.6 million of us. We have 6,000 miles of road. This pilot project only encapsulates .03% of the total amount of road space," he said. "Our streets are an underutilized asset and now it's time to open more of them to residents."
"It'll be up to two sites per borough," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
De Blasio said he's wants to close streets carefully to keep them from getting crowded.
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"So, especially with a new site, which might attract a lot of interest, we want to make sure, whether it's NYPD, Parks, whatever way we configure it, that there will be enforcement at the locations," he said.
The city gets quieter and quieter but some essential workers say at times the morning commute are more crowded than they like in the subway.
A woman who works cleaning college dorm rooms sent CBS2 a photo from inside an E train, telling us it was taken around 7 a.m. Thursday.
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"How are we supposed to stop the spread of the virus when this is happening?" she said.
George Stephens of Cambria Heights is still using the subway and says at times too many people are on the trains.
"There are times when you can't maintain a six foot distance," he said. "You do the best you can and you cover your mouth."
The MTA says ridership is down 87% and their numbers do not support any widespread crowding problem. MTA says it asks all nonessential workers to avoid the trains.
Cuomo and de Blasio have both said if, by the end of this week, they see too many people clustered together, they may be forced to order playgrounds to be shut.
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