New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

West Side Spirit A Plan for Open Streets by Jason Cohen

A Plan for Open Streets

One supporter of this plan is Councilman Ben Kallos. The lawmaker [...] is one of the few elected officials who does not own a car and commutes on his bike.

“I’m about making the city livable and walkable and all about public transportation,” he told Our Town.

Positive Feedback

According to Kallos, only 20 percent of NYC residents own cars, so he questions why the public space is geared towards them. He noted when the Open Streets Program launched last year due to the pandemic, his office was flooded with positive feedback.

Kallos recalled this was one of the first times he has seen parking spots taken away without a fight.

However, he understands that for those who do have a vehicle, parking is limited. Kallos hopes that in the future the council will examine mandating that new construction have parking garages. Prior to the 1980s, they were required with new buildings, but legislation deemed it an accessory.

“Having a car is a luxury more than anything else,” he said.

The council member said people often complain how the sidewalks on the Upper East Side are too crowded, so allocating 25 percent of street space for pedestrians would be a major boost for the city.

People should not have to fear riding on their bike or walking. In a city full of commuters, Kallos said, it is time the administration adapts to its people.


Get involved to make your voice heard.

Get monthly updates with the information you need to make a difference.