Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Plazas Permanently Pedestrianized

Two swaths of Broadway closed to cars in the heart of Manhattan as part of a traffic experiment that drew international attention will be permanently made into public plazas for pedestrians and bicyclists, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday. The eight-month pilot program in Times Square and Herald Square has been embraced by pedestrians and people who work or live nearby, but it has been cursed by drivers and had lackluster results in traffic studies. Since last May, Broadway has been closed to vehicles between 42nd and 47th streets in Times Square and between 33rd and 35th streets in Herald Square. With painted pavement, outdoor furniture and other landscaping, the city created outdoor plazas intended to evoke public pedestrian areas popular in many international cities. This is another step that comes after Bloomberg's failed attempt to institute congestion pricing in the city, in which he wanted to charge cars entering the most congested parts of Manhattan during the day. That plan had to be approved by the state Legislature, and wasn't. Most recently, he created pedestrian plazas in Times and Herald Squares, two of the most nightmarish intersections in the city. While results on traffic are mixed, everyone predicted a disaster that didn't happen. The plazas are there to stay. Bike lanes pop up around the city on a regular basis now, too. Read more in USA Today