NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson answers questions about Opening Streets to Pedestrians during Remote Conference

On April 17, we would that NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Council member Carlina River would be introducing a bill on April 22 for the pedestrianization of 75 miles of the city’s streets. The purpose being for the sake of enabling New Yorkers the space needed to maintain social distancing. All while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an effect on the city’s economy and its way of life.

Today being April 22, the Council Speaker spoke about the bill during his first remote NYC Council Pre-Stated Press Conference.

He would be asked about why the Mayor’s had a longstanding opposition to the notion of opening NYC’s streets.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson:

“You have seen a commitment from the City Council and myself and many members on wanting to open up streets for public use for pedestrians and cyclists to make it safer in this time of social distancing. Borough President Brewer put forth a great proposal in working with the BID associations throughout the borough of Manhattan to give a plan along these lines. I believe in the first week of this crisis I was asked by David Rubenstein from Politico and I said that we should do the Summer Streets Program and we’ve been beating the drum on that nearly every single day and you’re seeing the introduction of a bill today between myself and councilmember Rivera calling for the Department of Transportation to identify 75 miles of streets that could be closed down to cars and opened up for pedestrians and cyclists and children who feel the need to play. We’ve seen other cities around the country and around the world that’ve done this successfully. Oakland, Minneapolis, Milan – plenty of other places that were able to get this done. We think that we could do this in New York City and it’s not a matter of enforcement – we’ve seen plenty of New Yorkers attempting to socially distance in a really good thoughtful way throughout this crisis – But it’s hard sometimes when parks are packed with people on nice days. As the weather gets nicer, as the weather gets better over the coming days, and weeks and months we want to allow for more options for New Yorkers to socially distance in a safe way.”

“The Summer Streets program is very popular. You’ve seen New Yorkers, especially in communities that are more heavily dense like in Manhattan and in other neighborhoods across the city. They want more space for themselves and for their children. If playgrounds are going to be closed and other places are going to be closed because of social distancing not being able to take place we need to do something along these lines.”

“So you’ve seen the introduction of this bill today. You’re going to see a hearing on the bill. You’re going to continue to see both myself and I believe other council members who are going to keep pushing to allow for more space for the public during this time. “

He would later be asked about the chance of taking legislative action should the Mayor consider vetoing the bill.

“Our bill does that. We can override the veto – Has to go through a hearing process. We have to make sure we’re working with all the members of the council on that. Ultimately the bill that’s being proposed and introduced would require what you’re talking about in a temporary until we get through this crisis – and we don’t know how long that’s going to take. So, that’s what it would require the Department of Transportation to do.”