NYC’s roadways were made available to New Yorkers like never before during the pandemic, thanks to programs like Open Streets and Open Restaurants. Many continue to this day (in fact, More Than 300 Streets Are Participating In This Year’s ‘Open Streets’ Program), but many feel that the streets should be even more open to everyday people and bicyclists…AKA, not cars.
A new plan called 25 x 25 is taking that idea to a new level, proposing that NYC convert one-quarter of current car space into space for people. If that was done, they say every New Yorker could live “within a quarter-mile of a protected bus lane, protected bike lane, and public green space.” And in a city where a minority of residents own a car or even use it to commute to work, it seems to make sense.
The proposal was established by Transit Alternatives, a member-driven 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to “reclaim NYC’s streets from the automobile and advocate for better walking, biking, and public transit for all New Yorkers.”
The organization currently has a public letter addressing New York leaders on their website, asking elected officials to convert 25 percent of space for cars into space for people by 2025 to “[create] a more equitable, safe, vibrant, and resilient city for generations to come.” They currently have 200+ local organizations and thousands of NYC residents signed up to support the proposition, which you can do on their website here.
They have even created detailed case studies (alongside substantial renderings) highlighting different problematic streets across NYC.
For example, “Commerce Streets” like Broadway at East 17th Street in Manhattan often encounter issues like double parking and delivery chaos, which can endanger local shoppers and discourage foot traffic. The solution they say is:
Fully car-free streets with adjacent loading and unloading zones for deliveries, pick-up and drop-off zones for people arriving by car, and demand-based paid parking will discourage unnecessary driving, making driving easier for people who need to, and ensure that pedestrians and cyclists are safe. Public restrooms, trees, benches, street vendors, flexible space for public programming, and on-street retail and dining will encourage potential customers to stay.
You can find out additional information, including an official report, FAQS and more on their website here.