Did the Pandemic End the Car's Domination of New York Streets?

Imagining a post-car (or car-lite) New York City.

March 3, 2021, 6:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

New York City Open Streets

EQRoy / Shutterstock

Henry Grabar writes:

In the year since the pandemic shut down New York City, momentum has been building around the idea that the city ought to take back more space from cars. Especially while it’s still in partial hibernation.

The various phases of the pandemic have given repeated occasions for New Yorkers to witness what a city can be without cars filling every space to the brim and beyond.

"We no longer had to imagine a city that gave less of itself to automobiles; we were suddenly, sort of accidentally, living in it," write Grabar.

The Big Apple's low car ownership rates and high population density make it the natural candidate to push the experiment even further, according to Grabar, and one safe streets organization, Transportation Alternatives, has recently published a report called 25x25 that imagines the possibilities of closing one-quarter of the city's streets to automobiles by 2025.

Grabar lists some of the potential outcomes envisioned by the report, like 1,000 miles of pedestrian streets, a car-free block available for play in front of every public school in the city, 500 miles of bus lanes and 40 miles of busways, and 5.4 million square feet of street space available to local businesses and nonprofits, among many, many other possibilities.

The kicker for Grabar's take on the report: New York has the most expensive land in the world—more of it should do something other than store cars.

Monday, March 1, 2021 in Slate

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