Photo: Matthew McDermott, more here
Possibly More to ComeNew York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, along with other city officials, announced that the parts of Broadway that were closed last spring will become permanent pedestrian plazas, and that more might be added. Bloomberg said that "a reduction in injuries to pedestrians and motorists, along with a warm response from merchants and tourists, had persuaded him."
Photo: Matthew McDermott, more hereIt wasn't entirely a success for motorists: There is conflicting data, but some tests found that traffic slowed down on some streets and "traffic along Seventh Avenue, for example, moved 4 percent faster, but the city had hoped for a gain of up to 17 percent." Other tests based on taxi GPSes found that "northbound travel times improved by 17 percent, and southbound trips slowed by 2 percent"
But even if it's sometimes slower, that's not necessarily a bad thing. It can be a nice incentive not to drive to downtown Manhattan if you don't really have to and to instead take public transportation.
One of the big benefits is safety:
Advocates for the project said it had vastly improved safety in the area, pointing to a 35 percent decline in pedestrian injuries and a 63 percent reduction in injuries to drivers and passengers, according to city data. Foot traffic grew by 11 percent in Times Square and by 6 percent in Herald Square, and a survey of local businesses found that more than two-thirds of the area's retailers wanted the project to become permanent. (source)
The next step should now be to actually make the plazas look like they are permanent by making them look better (please replace the dark asphalt with a lighter color) and be more comfortable for pedestrians.
City officials have said that they are considering creating more pedestrian plazas in other parts of the city.