New York Has Finally Promised to Close Some Streets to Cars

New York's Sixth Avenue is nearly free of cars in mid-April.Richard B. Levine/Levine Roberts/ZUMA

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Residents of New York City, the nation’s coronavirus hot spot, will soon be able to walk, run, skate, and bike on the city’s already vacant streets. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that he was committed to closing 40 miles of streets to cars in May, with the goal of 100 total miles of street closures, to allow New Yorkers more space to socially distance outside.

Earlier in the month, the mayor’s pilot program to close a mere mile and a half of streets failed because, according to de Blasio, there were not enough NYPD officers to enforce it. After Oakland launched a program to close nearly 10 percent of its streets to cars with little police enforcement, de Blasio insisted the approach would never work in New York, saying, “We are just profoundly different than those other cities.” That same sense of New York exceptionalism is what caused the governor and mayor alike to throw up their hands and blame the city’s staggering coronavirus death toll on population density, rather than their own failure to shut things down sooner.

The street closures, mostly located in and around parks, will allow much-needed space for outdoor recreation in a city where miles of sidewalks are too narrow for social distancing. Here’s hoping that the specific street closures, when announced, actually benefit the crowded and low-income neighborhoods that need them most.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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