NYC to Experiment with Car-Free Zone on Broadway
A rendering of a car-free Times Square. Illustration via Streetsblog.

A rendering of a car-free Times Square. Illustration via Streetsblog.

Two of the most heavily congested stretches of Broadway St. – Times Square and Herald Square – will become car-free, pedestrian plazas in May to reduce traffic and pollution.

The $1.5 million pilot project will ban vehicles from seven blocks along Midtown’s famous diagonal street, known for its shops and theaters. “The plan is the latest move by [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg to change the way the city thinks of its streets, making them more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists and chipping away at the dominance of the automobile,” the New York Times reports.

The areas between the streets would be filled with chairs, benches and café tables, similar to what happened during the “Broadway Boulevard” experiment last summer (download the vision of that project, as sketched out by Janette Sadik-Khan, commissioner of New York City’s Department of Transportation.) Here’s a rendering of the new changes that might occur, as published on Streetsblog. If it works, the changes could become permanent.

The redesign will begin Memorial Day weekend and completion is scheduled by September, according to Bloomberg.com.

Andy Darrell, vice president for Living Cities at Environmental Defense Fund and a member of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Sustainability Advisory Board, applauded the project, saying it is “exactly the kind of innovation that can lead to a healthier and more livable city. The millions of people who pass through Times Square will breathe cleaner air as a result. We applaud the city’s continuing effort to improve our pedestrian spaces while simultaneously easing traffic congestion and improving air quality.”

New York planners are also hoping that the car-free zones will stimulate local business and urban development.

According to Bloomberg.com:

The experiment won the endorsement of Macy’s Department Stores’ Senior Vice President for Government and Community Relations Ed Goldberg, who predicted it would increase foot- traffic and commerce for small and large stores up and down the thoroughfare known for generations as The Great White Way.

“Broadway today is probably one of the best known avenues in the world,” Goldberg said. The traffic change “is extremely important for the future growth, not only of our business but for the entire city.”

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