The results of a two-month-long survey of North Brooklyn by the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) points to widespread support for the city’s Open Streets program, despite some resident pushback.
Out of the 1,642 submissions, more than three out of four respondents said they would like to use the Open Streets for “strolling” in the future, said Kyle Gorman, a representative of the DOT who presented the survey results during a community feedback session Wednesday evening.
The Zoom session followed a back-and-forth over the future of the Open Streets initiative in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, which the city established at the height of the first wave of the pandemic in the spring. In September 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the program would become permanent, but the DOT has yet to release details about what streets would be open to pedestrians in the months and years to come.
The survey, whose vast majority of respondents were located in Community Board One, didn’t explicitly ask whether surveyees supported the permanence of the Open Streets initiative in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Rather, it collected data on how residents used the streets in the past year and how they would like to use them in the future, according to the DOT’s presentation.
A little more than half of surveyees said they would like to use the Open Streets corridors for their daily commutes, exercise, biking and socially distant gatherings, said Gorman, the DOT representative. Only 19% said they would like to use the streets for driving.
However, some attendees of Wednesday’s feedback session thought the DOT’s survey was flawed, as the department received the bulk of its responses via an online form, according to comments Gorman made to Community Board One’s transportation committee in the first week of February.
“There’s a failure to reach out to everyone,” said Elizabeth M, a resident of Greenpoint who withheld her last name out of privacy concerns, in a phone interview.
During that same transportation committee meeting, Gorman said the still-raging pandemic limited the DOT’s ability to perform in-person outreach. And in Wednesday evening’s presentation, he specified how the DOT translated the survey into Spanish and Polish, hung flyers throughout Greenpoint and Williamsburg advertising the questionnaire and sent out email and social media blasts, among other efforts.
“This has been one of the more thorough and engaged processes that a city agency has done in North Brooklyn,” Kevin LaCherra, Greenpoint resident and volunteer with the North Brooklyn Open Streets Coalition, said in an interview.
Wednesday evening’s session and a similar meeting Thursday afternoon were part of a longer DOT initiative to evaluate the Open Streets program in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. The feedback process, according to Gorman, will continue through March.