May 6, 2020 By Allie Griffin
A stretch of 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights will close to traffic–starting tomorrow–as part of the city’s open streets initiative spurred on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Nearly half a mile of 34th Avenue from 69th Street to 77th Street will close to traffic from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day for the duration of the pandemic. The roadway will be for the exclusive use of pedestrians and cyclists during that 12 hour window.
The stretch was part of the mayor’s short-lived pilot program in March to open city streets to New Yorkers in need of fresh air. The mayor ended the initiative about two weeks later saying that it required precious police resources.
The .4 mile of 34th Avenue is part of 100 miles of New York City roadways that de Blasio and the City Council hope to turn over to pedestrians over the course of the pandemic. They plan to open up 40 miles in May alone.
De Blasio announced the open streets initiative last Monday after he resisted weeks of pressure from the City Council and bike advocates to close roads to traffic during the health crisis.
Several streets near Queens parks — including Forest Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park and Court Square — were shut down to traffic and opened exclusively for cyclists and pedestrians over the weekend.
The mayor said that he is working with organizations such as Business Improvement Districts to help manage these space.
The goal of the initiative is to provide more outdoor space for New Yorkers looking to get some fresh air amid stay-at-home orders. The additional mileage of open space will make it easier for people to follow social distancing rules as more people go outside to enjoy the warm weather, de Blasio said.