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This transit plan would turn a quarter of NYC streets into plazas and bike lanes

The new plan, backed by mayor Eric Adams, is called NYC 25x25.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

An exciting, relatively new plan by Transportation Alternatives, a nonprofit organization that seeks to change the city's transportation priorities, calls for 25% of the city's street space to be turned into pedestrian plazas, bike lanes, bus lanes and green spaces by the year 2025. The plan is aptly dubbed NYC 25x25 and it is backed by our very own mayor Eric Adams and a coalition of local advocacy groups.

Transportation Alternatives is specifically calling for the creation of 500 miles of protected bike lanes, an additional 500 miles of dedicated bus lanes plus new secure garbage containers. To put things in perspective: if the plan were to be executed as is, a total of 13 Central Parks-worth of public spaces would be reclaimed from automobiles. That's huge.

The proposition is certainly a logical one. The majority of city residents don't own a car and, according to data, private transportation is actually responsible for a big slice of the city's carbon emissions and air pollution numbers. The town's ecological footprint would obviously only benefit from cutting down the available space for automobiles to take on.

COVID-19 has also played a role in the conversation as the virus forced plenty of businesses to re-purpose outdoor spaces that was previously reserved for cars. Roads were effectively turned into public spaces like outdoor restaurants and some residents have since then been praising the revamped city landscape.

Bikes in NYC
Photograph: Donald Yip

"Right now, we give most of New York to cars—but imagine if sidewalks were bigger, if you could bike or quickly take the bus anywhere you wanted, if you didn’t have huge mounds of garbage on every single street," said Dany Harris, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, to The Guardian last week. "As New Yorkers, we think of ourselves as being tough. But that doesn’t mean we have to live in filth, or that we should fear death or injury every time we cross the street."

Adams expressed his approval for the project last month. "These are our streets and it's about riding, skateboarding [and] walking," he said then, when he also announced the installation of new giant garbage bins meant to (finally!) solve the city's trash problem across all boroughs.

Whether NYC 25x25 will be implemented and, if so, to what extent, is yet to be seen. In the meantime, feel free to imagine a more car-free New York while reading through the entire plan right here.

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