‘Open Streets’ Program on the Lower East Side Draws Local Criticism

Posted on: May 11th, 2020 at 5:00 am by

Photo: Eddie Panta

As desolate city streets transform to pedestrian use, some locals are criticizing the implementation here on the Lower East Side.

“Open Streets,” as the Mayor’s program is known, is the plan to restrict traffic flows, thereby creating free space to encourage social distancing during the COVID-19 crisis. The aim is lofty – 40 miles of open roadbed for pedestrians and cyclists by month end, and 100 miles total.

Photo: Eddie Panta

In this neck of the woods, the following temporary closures are now in effect:

  • Orchard Street, between Delancey and East Houston (already a pedestrian mall on Sundays)
  • Ludlow Street, between Delancey and East Houston
  • Stanton Street, between Allen and Essex
  • Rivington Street, between Allen and Essex

However, as many readers have pointed out, the window of freedom, so to speak, is rather small. Only four hours between 8:00am and noon daily. Largely due to scheduling limitations of the Lower East Side Partnership – the area’s business improvement district – which oversees the local Open Streets program with the NYPD. The sanitation services company, Block by Block, is also involved in day-to-day operations.

But the hope is to expand the scope.

When reached for comment, President Tim Laughlin told us, “Our operations team continues to work a modified schedule between 6am and noon daily; as such we have limited the hours of the closure at this time to 8am to noon which allows us to close and open streets within our current operations schedule. We are exploring additional options that would permit a longer closure window each day and hope to find a solution for extended hours in the near future.”

Photo: Eddie Panta

In the meantime, it doesn’t appear that everyone is adhering to the script. Motorists are apparently dismantling the barriers, mostly because there’s no exit from Hell Square in the morning even if parked legally.

To that end, Laughlin notes – “The program is designed to allow those with delivery and other needs to access the blocks by moving barricades.”

Recent Stories

One Week After Reopening, Nathan Straus Playground is Again Locked

Not so fast. One week after the Parks Department unlocked Nathan Straus Playground to the public, it’s again gated. Readers report that the padlocks returned on Tuesday without any communication from the city. As reported, the Lower East Side park, which abuts the Attorney Street cul-de-sac, had been closed without notice for nearly a month […]

Parisi Bakery Building on Elizabeth Street Listed for $5.99M

The NoHo building housing Parisi Bakery is up for sale, and the store may not survive. Robert Parisi – building owner and former head baker of the family business – listed 290 Elizabeth Street on the market. He’s seeking $5.99 million for the seven-unit, mixed-use tenement. Parisi purchased the property in 1983 for $200,000, property […]

Astor Place Hair to Close Permanently Next Month Due to Pandemic

You’ve seen, you’ve read, you’ve heard. News broke over the weekend that Astor Place Hairstylists, a bastion of affordable cuts, is closing down for good. Barring some miracle, the 74-year-old business will be another victim of this dreadful pandemic. Apparently, management informed staff last Friday. Its final day on the namesake block is at the […]

See the Subways with the MTA’s Live Subway Map

It’s been a long time coming, but the MTA map is finally going digital. Now officially in beta, the MTA’s “Live Subway Map” is a dynamic interface showing real time train locations, arrival times, and service alerts, among other pertinent info for New York denizens. And it arrives at a time when subway ridership numbers […]

When a Rat Skeleton Falls through Your Ceiling

This is not a Halloween story, but may as well be. As reported yesterday, deaf and hearing-impaired tenants living at 174 Forsyth Street are demanding remedy for deplorable living conditions. Those affected allege years of neglect that led to extreme disrepair and lack of security, and are holding a press conference this morning to train […]