Last month, Open Streets, an initiative started during the pandemic to clear up to 100 miles of city streets for pedestrians, cyclists, outdoor dining and cultural programming, was made into a permanent program by Mayor Bill de Blasio. And many of this year’s mayoral candidates are considering how to improve it going forward, including more options in low-income communities (Eric Adams) and public safety measures like retractable bollards (Kathryn Garcia).
Kyle Gorman, a senior program manager with the Department of Transportation, has been integral to the program’s success so far. “Ninety percent of my job is working with community partners” to put together outdoor sites like pop-up libraries and events like Drag Queen Story Hour, he said.
Mr. Gorman, 27, lives in Prospect Place, Brooklyn, with his roommate Lindsey Connors, 29, a production coordinator of marketing operations for HBO Max.
SLOW ROLL I don’t have blinds so I wake up with the sun. I also don’t use an alarm on the weekend so I’m up at 9 or 10. It’s a slow roll. I’m a caffeine fiend — cold brew, black — and I need a good everything bagel with scallion cream cheese, but a small schmear. There are various places in my hood, but Lindsey and I usually go to Bagel Pub. We might eat on a park bench now that the weather is getting better or we’ll take a slow stroll.
PARTNERSHIPS At home I’ll work on the computer and check emails, do some paperwork until 12:30 or 1. We are working on funding with community partners to execute more open streets. There are well over 100 locations as of now, 15 to 20 open streets just in Lower Manhattan. Some are single blocks; most are three to five blocks. Our longest is 26 blocks in Jackson Heights, Queens. Recently we’ve added exercise classes and Covid testing sites. Street Lab runs a pop-up library cart and art education space. We have a great partnership with them.
PERSONAL TOUCH Citi Bike is my primary mode of getting around. I’ll get a bike at Sixth and Prospect Place and dive into the city and visit two or three open streets. I try to go to as many different places as possible. I want to meet our organization partners and the community. It’s important to know them. We have an inspections team that does this for all the sites, but I like to go and make sure it’s running smoothly. I like to make government seem accessible. I have a public-facing role. New York is a city of neighborhoods with unique features that make them what they are. It’s like being in a bunch of different reality shows across the city.
WHERE IT ALL STARTED Chinatown has a really special place in my heart. It has been open since the beginning. I’ll start at Doyers Street and then go to Pell Street. Both are right in the heart of Chinatown, and each is only one block long with narrow streets and lots of immigrant-owned businesses, so it made a lot of sense for pedestrianizing them. I spend about 30 minute at each one. I make sure barriers and signs are up and placed correctly and that the programming is going smoothly.
DOCUMENTATION I’m at Tompkins Avenue in Bed-Stuy around 2. This opened recently in May. They couldn’t get it on the books last year. This one might need extra care, so I’ll make sure the N.Y.P.D. is feeling good and the community feels supported. I take a lot of photos, either with a Canon 6D or my iPhone. It’s important to capture and document both the amazing things and the issues; the ones bustling with activities or high-quality programming, or the ones that are low key. I cannot tell you how many times we have photo requests for ads and presentations.
SNACKS ON THE GRASS I spent a sizable amount of time in Brooklyn’s backyard this year on the lawn. Around 3 or 4, I meet up with friends. I’ll park the bike at one of the stations before going in and find everyone spread out on a sheet someone brought. A lot of people I know work in city government. We talk about the crazy things that happen in our lives and drink some wine and eat some snacks.
DINNER ALFRESCO Once it becomes sunset a few of us walk over to Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights. It’s one of our flagship open streets that has had the most dramatic transformation. I’m off the clock, so this is just because it’s a great street with lots of restaurants. Normally it’s a traffic-clogged artery when closed. But open, people sit everywhere. They take their dining room tables and put them in the street. They have birthday parties there. And I saw a wedding. We will probably eat at Alta Calidad. Sometimes I’ll go a friend’s rooftop. If I do, we get takeout from Winner or Un Posto Italiano and eat it up there.
GUILTY PLEASURE I’m back home by 8 or 9. The rest of the night is chill. Lindsey and I have started watching “The Real Housewives of New York” from the first season. We hate to love them but love to hate them. That’s what’s so addicting about the show. I also love reruns of “Jeopardy” on Netflix. I knock out around 11:30.
Sunday Routine readers can follow Kyle Gorman on Instagram @kylegorman.
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