Columbia study links Open Streets program to noise complaints

The city’s Open Streets program launched in April of 2020 during the pandemic and helped people engage in more physical activity and social interaction.

Natalia Ryzak

Mar 2, 2023, 9:39 PM

Updated 453 days ago

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New York City's Open Streets program may be linked to an increase in noise complaints.
The city’s Open Streets program launched in April of 2020 during the pandemic and helped people engage in more physical activity and social interaction.
However, a new study by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health says it came with unintended consequences.
“If the idea of creating this program is to create healthier streets, then increasing an exposure that has been associated with adverse health outcomes reduces the benefit –the overall benefit of this program,” said Marianthi-Anna Kioumourtzoglou, associate professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. 
Researchers explain that noise is more than just an annoyance – it can also lead to impacting a person's health.
“Studies have shown cardiovascular outcomes and neurological outcomes adversely associated with increased noise,” said Kioumourtzoglou. 
The study’s results were obtained by comparing data from summer 2019 pre-pandemic and summer 2021.
Kioumourtzoglou adds that she and the other researchers support the Open Streets program and its numerous benefits, but say the study should be taken into consideration.
“We are not urban planners, we do not get to make these decisions. We are just researchers,” said  Kioumourtzoglou, adding, “Our hope is that experts and planners and people who can make changes in policy, can see our findings, hopefully they find them useful and can adjust the policy accordingly.”
News 12 reached out to the Department of Transportation regarding the study. 
New York City DOT spokesperson Vin Barone said in a statement, “Open Streets transform our streets into vibrant public spaces, and the program’s wild success helped it grow from a pandemic necessity to a permanent fixture of our city. By creating much-needed new space for pedestrians and cyclists, Open Streets bring overwhelming public health, traffic safety, and economic benefits to New Yorkers.” 


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