An article that appeared recently in the New York Times examined the impact of the pandemic on New York City’s urban streetscape and explored the reimagining of urban public spaces already underway. A common theme in the article is a growing consensus that “just more greenery would be great,” which could suggest expanding opportunities for GSI.
Over the course of the past 10 months, city officials have gradually conceded 83+ miles of roadway to cyclists, runners and walkers, as close to 11,000 restaurants city-wide spilled over onto sidewalks and streets and retailers expanded their storefronts beyond their doorsteps. This Open Streets phenomenon has gained a steady following and many want to see it last and grow in post-pandemic New York City. There appears to be a shared vision for street medians to stretch and expand into small parks, parks to grow and open up to greater access by locals with paths weaving among trees and gardens, and sidewalks to incorporate more trees and plants.
These recreational improvements would bring multiple other benefits. For instance, they would break up the flow of traffic by forcing drivers to slow down, which would increase safety. They would also allow more space for features like workout areas, playgrounds, and gardens.
This reimagining of New York City’s urban landscape could have significant implications regarding opportunities for future GSI implementation and serve as a blueprint for other large cities to model.