Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A New Reason to Walk

Image from The New York Times
Image from The New York Times

Traffic patterns were shaken up just west of Bryant Park over the holiday weekend. Beginning on Sunday, Mayor Bloomberg and the Department of Transportation closed sections of Broadway to vehicular traffic at Times Square and Herald Square. As part of the “Green Light for Midtown” project, the intention is to improve safety and traffic flow on both the streets and sidewalks of two of the city’s busiest areas.

Every New Yorker has probably experienced the crush of pedestrians in Times Square and Herald Square since both areas are top tourist destinations for shopping and sightseeing. Combined with a high volume of cars, trucks, buses, and bicycles, the situation was getting sticky. The city’s decision to expand pedestrian access into the streets has drawn mixed reactions from pedestrians and motorists as The New York Times reflected in it’s coverage of the first full day of closure and in yesterday’s article on the closure’s effects on the first workday after the long weekend.

Banning vehicles from these stretches of Broadway is the beginning of a multi-step process towards creating new open plazas for the public to enjoy. What else does the future hold for these spaces? In addition to new road surfacing, furniture, and greenery, you can definitely expect to see public programs and events from the two Business Improvement Districts involved in the project. The 34th Street Partnership will cover the area from 35th to 33rd Streets, and the Times Square Alliance from 47th to 42nd Streets.

The renderings below are approximations of how Herald Square (left) and Times Square (right) will look when the project is completed in August.

Renderings from DOT’s website

We’re excited to see what we can learn from these new public spaces and will be keeping an eye on the progress as it unfolds.

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