Sept. 1, 2020 By Allie Griffin
A group of transportation advocates are pushing for 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights — part of the city’s Open Streets program — to be turned over to pedestrians and cyclists on a permanent basis.
Each day, a large stretch of 34th Avenue closes to traffic and opens for pedestrians and cyclists as part of the citywide Open Streets program — which the mayor began in May to give New Yorkers more outdoor space during the pandemic.
Transportation Alternatives launched a call-to-action petition about a month ago to make it a permanent Open Street.
Currently, 1.3 miles of 34th Avenue, from 69th Street to Junction Boulevard, closes to cars and most vehicles from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day. Vehicles are permitted to drive — at 5 MPH — on the closed street for local purposes.
Juan Restrepo, the Queens organizer for Transportation Alternatives, said Monday that 34th Avenue is one of the most successful Open Streets in the program.
“It’s very clear that 34th Avenue is the defining Open Street,” Restrepo said.
He said its success is largely due to the dedicated residents who care for what has become an ad-hoc linear park. The entire community comes together to make sure the space works and is a safe place for neighborhood kids to play, Restrepo said.
“There’s general buy-in from parents to let this be a space for their children to be a child again,” he said of the stretch. “It’s kind of a weird time for a lot of kids and the space has really helped them to find their community — it’s a truly special space.”
The advocates also have the backing of some elected officials. State Sen.Jessica Ramos and Council Member Daniel Dromm have announced that they support making 34th Avenue a permanent Open Street as well.
“Hear us all: Danny Dromm and I want the 34th Avenue Open Street to be permanent!” Ramos tweeted on Aug. 16. Dromm also tweeted that he’s fighting to make it permanent.
Advocates for the permanent closure also want a larger section of 34th Avenue to be included as part of the Open Street. They want it to be extended from Junction Boulevard to 114th Street in Corona so that the residents and children who live there can benefit as well.
Restrepo said the kids in Corona deserve the same amenities as those in Jackson Heights — two neighborhoods that are both park-deprived and were among the hardest-hit by the pandemic.
“Jackson Heights is a much more politically active community [than Corona], but that shouldn’t be a deterrent for why someone shouldn’t have access to space like this,” he said.
The city has yet to set an end date for the Open Streets program and a decision has not been made as to whether any streets in the program will be made permanent.
“We’ll continue to evaluate the future of the program going forward,” a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office said. “It’s a hugely successful program and we’re proud to see it so warmly embraced by communities across Queens.”
Transportation Alternatives is asking residents to write letters to their representatives advocating for both the extension and permanence of the 34th Avenue Open Street.
On Sunday, the group lead roughly 150 cyclists through a tour of the borough’s open streets. The bike ride was joined by several advocates including Ramos, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, the Democratic pick for Assembly District 36 Zohran Mamdani and potential Astoria City Council candidate Tiffany Cabán.
Restrepo said 34th Avenue got lots of love from cyclists who joined the ride and Jackson Heights activists reminded riders to sign the petition as they biked through the tree-lined blocks.
Over 150 cyclists rode through Queens for our #OpenStreets ride.
We got to see how open streets provide more space for community programming, traffic calming, social distancing, recreation, biz seating and more. pic.twitter.com/CP5M22Q3x8
— Juan Restrepo 🚲 (@juaninQNS) August 30, 2020
We totally disagree with closing of 34 th ave because it’s creating a huge amount of pollution, noise and traffic in 35th ave and Northern Blvd especially during rush hour because the traffic is being rerouted. It is too long from BQE to Junction Blvd to be closed and it should be opened because the city spent a lot of money in creating 34th ave with a separation of the avenue with trees in the middle and a bike lane.
The pandemic is over and we want our 34th ave back to normal.
NO WAY. IT’S HARD ENOUGH TO FIND PARKING AS IT IS. IF THIS WAS DURING THE SUMMER TIME FROM JULY TIL THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, THAT’S FINE NO ARGUMENTS FROM ME. BUT PERMANENTLY YOU CAN FORGET THAT.
Community Residents are all not open to having 94th Street and 34th Avenue to 114th Street and 34th Avenue as an Open Play street. There have been many complaints and issues surrounding this idea and have been openly opposed to it. It is not a one size fits all project.
Why dont these people walk around in the park on 78st. Why dont they walk on the sidewalk. Get out of the street its hard enough to get around between this, the overwhelming traffic and bike lanes.
it is a waste of space it ties up 35th Ave. 37th Ave. and Roosevelt is almost on movable. It’s a bad idea that’s a working street on a very important Avenue. And sometimes there’s like two people walking on it most of the time. Another Deblasio mistake and I’m not the only one everybody I talk to says it’s ridiculous
I don’t think it’s such a great idea for 34th ave to remain a pedestrian street. As trafficked returns to normal we need it for cars during rush hour.
Are they crazy it’s a nutty idea.
Barely anyone uses the streets. I thought people were supposed to stay in now it’s ok to go out? Who needs kids playing in the street. ? The kids around here are lazy all they want to do is play with the phone
I hope they close 35th ave next. Better yet !
close 35th ave and re-open 34th
Yes close 35th ave. More better!
Yes close it.
If they want kids to play and for kids to be kids again go to a park or a schoolyard! Oh I forgot they did away with building school yards with new schools and the used all the old school yards to build on. Streets are for traffic!
They should keep a 8am-8pm closures just as right now every year March to October. I doubt as many people will be walking in it decmeber…
This is very simple. Streets were made for cars. . Sidewalks are for walking. Bikelanes are for bikes. This is a bad idea plain and simple.
Traffic is a big mess right now in the area, 34th Avenue needs to be reopen for cars and people should go the flushing meadows park if they want to recreate and exercise in the cold weather
NYC has always been a walking and driving city. If you want to just walk, move to the suburbs or upstate. People who use their cars for work or errands need a place to park. I hope when Mayor Moron goes so does Pathetic Polly, head of the DOT.
Please have in mind that some of these cyclists speed up and down the streets, I have seen plenty of near misses especially when there are children playing . The bicycles need to stay in there lane ( bike lane ) & respect the direction of traffic, slow down, & have their bells & lights .
This is a nightmare for people that live there and have to look for parking or just drive from 35the ave to northern blvd. (takes about 10 minutes one way) so imagine looking for parking and going around a couple of times. the side walks are pretty big on 34th ave and most people that hang out on the streets don’t even properly distance themselves, so there goes that. as well as its after 8pm and they still think they could be walking on the streets. It would have been a lot better if they opened up the streets for cars when rush hour hits, and people that are saying let the traffic stay on northern blvd obviously don’t drive there because if they did they would quickly change their mind. There is a reason streets are for cars and sidewalks are for walking.
Oh, please: Make this happen
It’s very hard to find parking for people that lives here. Also people leaving garbage everywhere.
I would call them ANTI-Transportation Advocates, if we are being totally honest. This proposal will make things far worse on the surrounding east-west avenues if put into effect. And what about parking spaces? Emergency vehicle access? I hope there is a long and thorough study done before this is even seriously considered, but NYC DOT seems to be the one agency that can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants.
This would be a nightmare. No one considers how people live in this community and its extremely difficult to find parking. To top it off if a vehicle enters 34th ave for local traffic ; people are yelling and scolding you for going down a “closed” street. I lived in this community for 31 years. It’s was fine before that. People are not respecting the streets either. Garbage is everywhere and REFUSE to share the road with local traffic.
Thank you Mr Juan Restrepo and all those that want to have 34 ave car free, let the people have more room to move. Jackson Heights a garden in the city.
Nobody thinks of the nightmare this closure causes for residents who live and drive in the area, let alone what a disaster parking gas become before 8 PM. Most people continue to walk and bike on 34th avenue way past 8 PM. I’ll never understand it but parking has become a worse nightmare than it already was…
Great place for people to exercise via walking, skating or bicycle riding. Also good for people to get together at proper social distances. 35th Avenue is a great alternative route for people to drive.
finally Senator Jessica Ramos & Councilmember Daniel Dromm are stepping up to the plate .
Hit that ball out the park Danny !
Let’s go Ramos !