Expanded bike and pedestrian ‘boulevards’ planned for Brooklyn streets

An early open street on Prospect Park West.
Photo by Todd Maisel

Several Brooklyn streets will soon be permanently transformed into pedestrian and bike-friendly boulevards, according to City Hall. 

Fifth Avenue in Park Slope and Sunset Park as well as Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights — all of which are already popular “Open Streets” dining destinations — will become permanent “Open Boulevards,” while 21st Street in Greenwood Heights will become a “Bike Boulevard,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

“In a year of dramatic changes to our urban landscape, Open Boulevards will transform New York City’s streets like never before,” de Blasio said. “The recovery for all of us will come to life on these streets, where small businesses, restaurants, artists, pedestrians, and cyclists will gather to create the kind of destination you can only find in the greatest city in the world.”

The Open Boulevards program will boil down to a beefed up version of the existing Open Streets initiative, according to the mayor, with more room for dining, spaces for cultural performances, improved signage, landscaping, and a dedicated marketing campaign to attract tourists to “open” thoroughfares.

In recent months, City Hall has come under fire for an alleged lack of support for the Open Streets program, which has been a boon for struggling restaurants and businesses, but has largely fallen into the laps of volunteers left to maintain and oversee their streets with little to no help from the city.

But an allocation of $4 million in the most recent budget toward the program aims to change that. 

“New Yorkers deserve more open space than ever this summer, and Open Boulevards will be a great resource for dining, cycling, and enjoying all the dynamic cultural events our city has to offer,” Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin said in a statement. “As we bring back Open Streets: Restaurants and make Open Streets permanent, there will be more ways than ever to put our streets to work for people, not just vehicles.”

The planned Bike Boulevard program aims to turn a portion of 21st Street — a hilly, largely residential street with no connection to a larger bike network— into a bike-friendly boulevard with slowed traffic speeds and limited traffic, according to the mayor’s office. 

“From record bike lane installations to more busways and bus lanes than ever, to brand-new Bike Boulevards, New York City is proud to transform its streets to make them more accessible for everyone,” Hizzoner said in a statement.