NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As New York City restaurants stay a float with outdoor dining, there has been increased focus on keeping patrons safe.

Part of the solution is trying to limit the number of cars driving past this new form type of dining, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported Thursday.

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A street in Forest Hills, Queens was shut down to traffic at 5 p.m. as the city has expanded its Open Streets program, giving more space to outdoor dining on more days.

While restaurants continue to struggle, some are concerned about the safety of eating outside.


They’ve quickly become the latest staple of New York City streets. Take a drive up Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side and you’ll see plenty of outdoor dining pods in the street, all while traffic rumbles past.

From there to Forest Hills, many diners say they feel safe, even though they could reach out and touch traffic.

“Oh yeah. I’m a New Yorker, we’re tough,” Forest Hills resident Jerene Murphy said.

But others, like in Park Slope, Brooklyn, are not so sure about eating right next to passing trucks.

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“I do remember initially when these sort of platforms began getting built, thinking, wow, it’s just a matter of time before somebody has an accident,” one outdoor diner said.

The city started allowing outdoor street seating in June to help struggling restaurants since indoor dining has been banned because of the pandemic. While the program has been very popular, there have been some accidents.

A car smashed into the outdoor seating at Cafe Alula in Greenpoint, Brooklyn last month, leaving one woman hurt.

A few days earlier on the Upper East Side, another car hit outdoor seating. Luckily, no one was injured.

“We have visited every restaurant pretty much, helped instruct them on how to make the set up strong. We’ve put out a whole education campaign for drivers,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “As these restaurants are out here occupying the curb lane, you’ve gotta drive safely around them and the restaurants have to follow our guidelines to make sure the structures are sturdy.”

Trottenberg said the DOT has inspected some 20,000 restaurants and put out a YouTube video showing guidelines. That includes, in part, constructing a U-shaped structure with reflectors to protect diners.

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