The Next Mayor Will Have to Decide in New York's Post-Pandemic Parking Conflicts

The ongoing political controversy about the priorities of the public realm in New York City is likely to last into the next mayoral administration.

June 8, 2021, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


New York City Open Streets

EQRoy / Shutterstock

Winnie Hu reports that New York City's ongoing battle over the public space reclaimed from automobiles during the pandemic is likely to be determined by the next mayor.

As Planetizen has detailed repeatedly during the pandemic, New York City has led the charge of cities turning over street and parking spaces to human-powered uses like open streets for walking and playing, outdoor dining, and new dedicated bus lanes. While the empty streets of the early pandemic created an opportunity to repurpose space previously devoted to automobile travel and storage, the stage for the current conflict was being set by record levels of New Yorkers buying new cars during the pandemic.

George Arzt, a political consultant and former press secretary to Mayor Edward I. Koch, is quoted by Hu explaining that the controversies surrounding car space in the post-pandemic city is creating "a real migraine" for the city's mayoral candidates as the Democratic primary, scheduled for June 22, approaches.

Meanwhile, traffic safety in the city, like the rest of the nation, got worse in 2020 and continues to see heightened levels of danger in 2021. According to Hu, "There were 99 traffic-related fatalities reported as of May 31, the highest number in that five-month period since 2013…"

To get a better idea of how each of eight leading candidates for the office of mayor would act regarding cars, traffic safety, and transportation equity, Hu and the New York Times sent written questions, summarizing the answers in the source article below. Hu reports universal support among the respondents for congestion pricing and additional bike lanes as well as mixed support for the expansion of the Citi Bike shared-bike system and the expansion of the city's open streets program to low-income and minority neighborhoods. Hu also shares responses to questions about curb management and traffic safety technology.

Friday, June 4, 2021 in The New York Times

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