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Don’t Close Parks. Open Up Streets.

The Atlantic, James Hamblin – Give people the public space they need right now. “…New York City is home to more than 6,000 miles of streets. Much of that is barely used by cars on a typical summer weekend, when many people travel. The streets will surely be only more barren this summer. And it is possible to close them to cars and give people room to walk, run, and bike. Especially during a pandemic, simply preserving public space is a profoundly high-yield investment in physical and mental health…The decision to crack down on parks rather than make more space available is of tremendous consequence—and not just to New Yorkers. It is a microcosm of America’s  default to punitive rather than restorative justice. We assume the worst in people. When we see photos of people crowded into a park, we assume they are simply dangerous, reckless people. We call to punish them. People are not brazenly seeking out crowded parks during a pandemic. Just as no one wants to sleep in a subway car or live under a bridge, people are going outside because they have no other place to go. If given the option, people would not be crowded together—and that option exists. Open the streets. Open at least half of them. If we do not have enough police to enforce temporary closure to traffic, then open them semipermanently with concrete barriers. Open other streets permanently. Dynamite the asphalt, sod the land, plant trees and flowers, and do not look back…”

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