Streets for People: New York's Bold New Pedestrian Spaces

New York City has made a commitment to improve pedestrian spaces in Manhattan. New York's Transport Commissioner is emphasizing swiftness and economy of implementation for proposed projects. Surface treatments require no involvement of other government agencies and minimal environmental review, so simple paint markers on asphalt have been used to test radical roadway redesigns quickly and at low cost. Later, when new streets designs are popularly accepted, the more cumbersome permanent reconstruction can be worked through municipal bureaucracy. This article highlights some recent pedestrian-friendly changes. In Summer 2009, New York City closed sections of Broadway at Times Square and at Herald Square to motor vehicles. Between Times Square and Madison Square, two lanes of Broadway were converted from mixed traffic lanes to bike lanes and walkways. Closing Broadway, a road that diagonally cuts across New York's street grid, actually improved traffic flow in most places because traffic signals could be simplified to two phases in critical locations. Public reaction was almost uniformly positive, despite a few complaints from taxicab drivers. New York also recently put some of its streets on a "road diet" and used traffic calming measures on others. In the Meatpacking District in Chelsea, a once dilapidated roadway was turned into a space in which pedestrians have priority but which all modes can access at slow speeds. With simple changes in traffic direction and large stone blocks and planters set on the roadbed, vibrant street life immediately flourished in the zone. The city also developed high quality parking-protected bike lanes on segments of Eighth and Ninth Avenues between 14th and 34th Streets and also along Grand Street. Hundreds of parking spaces were removed to create parking-free bikeways on Prince Street and Bleecker Streets.

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  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01150793
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Feb 1 2010 8:19PM