The city of New York plans to remove 25% of urban space from cars, in the legislature that has just begun to give it to public uses, among which are bus or bicycle lanes, new pedestrian spaces, green areas and wider sidewalks.
“We don’t like to talk about ‘closing streets,’ it’s the opposite: opening them for pedestrian and public use,” Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodríguez, appointed by the new mayor Eric Adams, who took office on past January 1.
Within these new public uses will also be the expansion of “open schools“, a continuation of an idea born at the time of confinement by covid-19 and that allowed some school activities to be taken to the streets or squares adjacent to schools.
Similarly, the mayor’s office will promote “open restaurants”, which in Hispanic countries are called terraces, a rarity in New York before covid-19 and that the pandemic “encouraged” them to expand their activity on the street by stealing from sometimes entire lanes of the road, although sometimes they have to resort to heated plastic “bubbles” to allow diners to withstand the freezing temperatures of winter.
The plan, whose deadlines and budget remain to be outlined, will be developed throughout the term of Eric Adams, who, like Rodríguez himself, is a recognized defender of the bicycle and likes to be photographed on his saddle.
“Our goal is to go to a city where the car is not needed“, adds Rodríguez, who however excludes any measure that penalizes the use of the private car.
More bikes than ever in New York
On a typical day, there are 530,000 bicycle trips in New York., and every month there are 773,000 New Yorkers who use their bike several times a month.
With an annual increase of 4.7% in the daily use of two wheels, the number of trips has doubled in 10 years, between 2009 and 2019, but its visibility became especially apparent in 2020, when the majority of local, schools and businesses closed in New York and the streets emptied of cars.
Today there are 1,375 miles of bike lanes in the city, but only 546 miles are “protected”, that is, separated with “hard” barriers, which has not helped to avoid the relatively high number of cyclists killed in recent years. years: 28 in 2019, 26 in 2020 and 19 in 2021.
The mayor’s plan is to add 300 more miles of protected lanes, and consider all bike lanes as priorities for cleaning (especially after snowfall), considering that they are “work places” for the growing community of food delivery people, moving at full speed down these lanes.
The slowest buses in the country are in New York
Buses in the Big Apple are the slowest in the United States, as recognized by the municipality: with an average speed of 8 miles per hour and it drops even more at rush hours, which perhaps explains why the number of users has fallen by 13% in four years.
The mayor’s office is working on a plan to improve the bus lanes, to double the number already under 150 miles throughout the city, but above all it wants to implement a system of intelligent traffic lights (there are 14,000 intersections with traffic lights in the city) that allow Buses pass in preference to cars.
The mayor’s office is clear that the bus is the only public means of transport available in the peripheral neighborhoods (and poorer ones) that are hardly reached by the subway, therefore improving the bus service is essential to raise the standard of living of those neighborhoods and fix their population in them, avoiding the exodus from those neighborhoods, as the commissioner recalls.
Priorities for pedestrians must be advanced
Within the mayor’s plans there is also progress in the pedestrianization of the streets, without specific figures in a city and a country where everything remains to be done compared to European models: in New York, the only pedestrian zone (and not entirely) is the one around Times Square, something that was imposed with great opposition from the merchants.
The ultimate goal of all the mayor’s plans is to improve air quality: during confinement, the disappearance of the car from the streets of New York resulted in a 23% drop in microparticle air pollution, and therefore if they are reduced from sustained form of road traffic, the municipality calculates that it will reach a 34% drop.
· The asphalt: the other guillotine of a fatal year in New York; 1,855 dead since 2014
· New York is the worst city to drive in the US and the 5th worldwide
VIDEO: Subject sat next to an immigrant delivery man who was stabbed to steal his bicycle in Manhattan