Rethinking Soho


A Porsche, an ambulette, Paul Steely White, Bruce Schaller and a vendor compete for street space in Soho

Crowded shoppers and residents want more sidewalk space in Soho and they would be happy to give up some of the area’s parking space to get it, according to a study released today by Transportation Alternatives (Download a PDF version here). Conducted by seemingly omnipresent transportation consultant Bruce Schaller, who issued a mammoth report on New York City traffic congestion for the Manhattan Institute last week, the study’s results were based on interviews with 1,000 drivers and pedestrians along Prince Street.

"People perceive Soho’s streets to be very crowded," Schaller said at a press conference held this morning in a prime parking spot that he was lucky enough to find right across the street from the Apple store on Prince and Green. "The sidewalk widths and design of these streets hasn’t changed since this was a manufacturing area decades ago." Schaller’s study makes the case that giving more street space to pedestrians would be "a win-win-win for Soho’s visitors, residents and business owners."

The study found that:  

  • 89% of the people who use Prince Street are arriving by subway, bus, walking or bicycle. Only 9% arrive by car.
  • By a ratio of 5:1 shoppers said they would come to Prince Street more often if they had more space to walk, even if it meant eliminating parking spaces. Interestingly, this ratio was nearly identical for visitors and those who live and work in the area.
  • Most shoppers would rather see space taken away from parked cars rather than street vendors.
  • And this surprising, interesting result: The shoppers who value wider sidewalks over parking spent about five times as much money, in aggregate, as those who value parking over sidewalks. Or, as White puts it, "The people who are willing to forgo parking for sidewalks are the big spenders."  

Schaller’s report concludes, "The major implication of the study is that Prince Street would be improved for visitors, residents and workers through an expansion of the space allocated to pedestrians."

soho2.jpgWhite says T.A. has no specific street design or street closing recommendations at this time. "That has to come out of a consensus-building process with community stakeholders." Nevertheless, he offered a few ideas of what might emerge from such a process: "You might consider eliminating parking on one side of the street and super-sizing one of the sidewalks or making Prince Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue a pedestrians-only zone on a Saturday, perhaps even during next year’s holiday season," he said. A similar pedestrianization project was just done on a pair of major shopping streets in London two weeks ago, with reports of great results.

Charles Hughes, a street vendor whose table of books and screenplays stood adjacent to the morning press conference, wasn’t buying any of it. "This is just an indirect way to get rid of street vendors and make the place look like Beverley Hills," he said. "They just want to make New York City even more bland."

Related Links:

  • Photo simulation: Re-envisioning West Broadway
  • Streetfilms Grand Street: Looking at the absurdity of how narrow Soho sidewalks are and how they could be easily widened. 
  • Streetfilms Psychic Space: TOPP founder Mark Gorton points out the difference in how cars and traffic congestion change the way streets feel.
  • Streetfilms Broadway & Houston: On weekends Soho is crammed with shoppers and pedestrians. Still the city is chipping away at sidewalk space.
  • Photo simulation: Re-envisioning Grand Street.

soho3.jpg

  • The people who are willing to forgo parking for sidewalks are the big spenders.

    This is an interesting fact, but you’re not suggesting that dollars should be votes on how the city looks and acts, right? I know Soho is effectively an shopping mall, but that doesn’t mean that we should manage it like one.

  • Mitch

    “This is just an indirect way to get rid of street vendors and make the place look like Beverley Hills…”

    Wouldn’t wider sidewalks or a pedestrian zone allow MORE room for street vendors?

  • I’m with Mitch. I don’t see why this proposal would have anything to do with the vendors. I mean, if they’re allowed under the current crappy situation, it should be fine with wider sidewalks, right?

    I hate…HATE…the intersection of Prince and Broadway. At all times of the year it’s consistently the worst pedestrian crossing, say, south of 23rd St to deal with, primarily because of the pedestrians, for once. Anything to relieve pedestrian congestion in that area would be welcome.

  • da

    The “Support the Troops” decal on the back of the yellow Hummer is a nice touch.

  • JK

    Your piece could have mentioned the successful effort of the 8th Street BID (Manhattan) to widen the sidewalks there by eliminating a parking a lane.

    The vendors are a key issue in Soho. Many locals worry that wider sidewalks equal more vendors. They could be right. Restricting vendors is a tough one because there is immense sympathy for vendors within city council and seemingly little for the plight of pedestrians. This is a good example of a specific benefit accruing to a minority (the vendors getting free, very scarce, public space for free) trumping the interests of the broader public — in this case pedestrians.

  • v

    are the vendors really the problem? i’m not so sure.

    i see vendors as a part of a lively street, not an intrusion upon one. after all, we’re not *just* after increasing person-flow, right?

  • da,

    If the photo were bigger you’d see that the other decal is a union sticker. Carpenters, as I recall. Represent!

  • Clarence

    And I’ll give Aaron the kudos back (see what he said about my film above) for he is turning around great stories in little time as well.

    I got video of the Hummer driving by but didn’t get the yellow ribbon. Aaron – great eye for that stuff.

  • Tim

    As an actual resident of Soho I believe the street vendors are a huge problem and it’s getting worse each month. It’s not acceptable to have so many street vendors that it forms a virtual wall like on West Broadway. Similarly, the street vendors on Prince Street make the the sidewalks almost unpassable. We need the police and the city to address the problem with overcrowding in Soho with rules that strictly limit the non-1st amendment vendors.

  • Joey

    Also as a resident of Soho I believe the automobile traffic is a huge problem and it’s getting worse each month. It’s not acceptable to have so many cars, trucks and SUV’s that it forms a virtual wall like on West Broadway. Simiilarly, the parked cars along Prince Street take up space that could easily be used by the numerous vendors who currently clog the narrow sidewalks. We need to the police and city to address the problem with overcrowding in Soho with rules that strictly limit and regulate cars, trucks and SUV’s, which, as Schaller’s study shows, really don’t add all that much to neighborhood life.

  • pantagleize

    Another SoHo resident here (25+ years) …

    The vendors for the most part are a plus for the area, HOWEVER …

    A good number of the cars parked on Prince Street actually belong to the vendors themselves — same along Broadway on the weekends. In those cases they are taking up double space when it’s not necessary. Unload your stuff, set-up shop and move your dang vehicle.

    Vendors need to abide by regulations and keep their tables / displays within the allotted space from the edge of the sidewalk. There are certain areas along Prince (in vicinity of J. Crew / Jerry’s) where, due to the steps up to the building, the space for pedestrians is ridiculously narrow.

    Vendors should also clean up the area where they set up shop at the end of the day. This would be a very good sign that they are “good neighbors”, rather than leaving the various garbage that collects at the foot of their tables when they pack up for the night.

  • wdt

    I’m a soho resident for five years and the street vendors are a MAJOR problem. Not only to they take up the bulk of the sidewalk, but the people/tourists shopping from them block the remainder. In most cases they are not within the legal limits on distance away from the building. I end up walking in the street on the weekends, because the sidewalk are unpassable. Vendors should be banned from Prince and Spring to allow crosstown traffic. Wider sidewalks would be nice, but it would only provide more free office space for the vendors.

    wdt

  • Tim

    Thanks #12. I thought I was the only person in Soho who thought the vendor problem is completely out of control. The fact that the NYPD does nothing to enforce the illegal vending rules makes matters worse.

  • Zach

    Uh… why do you live in Soho if you hate street vendors? Maybe you should have moved, I don’t know, to ANY other neighborhood in the city?

    Anyway, even if you DO hate street vendors, the amount of traffic that trickles through on Prince is a joke, compared to the pedestrian crush — it’s impossible to even walk down Prince on a good day. It adds five minutes to your three-block commute. Closing Prince, at least from Lafayette to something past Mercer, seems like quite a no-brainer to me — it’s a primo street and it’s already got ten times too much ped traffic for the four-foot sidewalk. Onward!

  • sally

    The people who are willing to forgo parking for sidewalks are the big spenders.

    This is an interesting fact, but you’re not suggesting that dollars should be votes on how the city looks and acts, right? I know Soho is effectively an shopping mall, but that doesn’t mean that we should manage it like one.

    Neil — I think the point here is that reducing parking significantly will not reduce spending significantly.

  • Tim

    I think one of the dumbest ideas in the article is to make Prince Street a pedestrians-only zone. Why would we want to make Prince Street like the crappy street fairs you see around Manhattan? What the city should do is limit the traffic on Broome St on the weekend and elimnate all the street vendors.

  • Zach

    Re Tim:

    Pedestrian street isn’t necessarily a street fair. Street fairs do suck in Manhattan, but they’re all run by one of like three companies (the Times did a story about it recently) with the same eight booths. This is just talking about allowing free movement of people on a crowded street — taking out cars hardly makes it a street fair.

  • Nicolo Macchiavelli

    Props to Aaron for noticing the Carpenters logo. My father was a Carpenter, but then again, so was Jesus’, and while I don’t think that is anything to hold against the guy, I don’t think it makes him St. Joseph of the Hummer either. For the record though, for the union education angle of your blog, the Carpenters are one of the genius unions who left the AFL-CIO, like the (progressive?)Teamsters and SEIU. Know your unions.

  • Brian

    I’m just glad they’re doing something. Traffic should be shut down completely on the weekends. The vendors on the sidewalk wouldn’t be a problem if you could walk in the street. Widening the sidewalks is a good start though.

  • Brian

    I hope they don’t wimp out and limit changes in Soho to Prince st. Broadway needs almost

  • The street formerly known as Prince

    The streets are about 200-years old and landmarked just like the cat-iron buildings. You need permission from Landmarks Preservation Commission to change anything here.

    Why anyone would want to alter historic streets to accommodate fleeting tourists and passing shoppers? They too shall pass, yet Prince Steet will remain.

    It is highly unlikely that LPC would ever approve this idea which would have to go through the community board which would bring out loads of residents who don’t need the aggravation of sidewalks torn up in front of their buildings to please Mr. White.

    Ditto for closing SoHo to traffic. Who wants to live in a pedestrian shopping mall?
    And where would the traffic go? NoHo or the Village? I’m sure they would just love that idea.

    It was a nightmare when they re-cobbled Greene and Mercer, and the current fiasco on Houston is another example of the engineers at DOT and DDC screwing things up. Do we want to continue this engineering experiment on Prince Street?

    How many residents did they ask? Or is the opinion of a tourist and a B&T visitor equal to someone who lives there and pays taxes? Look, I don’t dictate how many lanes there should be on Queens Blvd.
    Should a stroller from Queens in SoHo on a Saturday determine how someone else’s sidewalk should look?

    As far as the peddlers, they are ALL illegal because narrow historic Prince Street at 11′ does not afford the required 12′ pedestrian clearance nor 20-feet clearance from a doorway. Also, by statute these illegal peddlers are prohibited specifically on weekends. They just ignore the law and don’t pay taxes, pay rent, or offer refunds and other consumer safeguards.

    So, stop defending the peddlers unless you are willing to invite them to block the sidewalk in front of your home.

    Get rid of the peddlers and you can improve the sidewalk congetion by a factor of two without destroying 200-year old sidewalks and spending millions of dollars.

    SoHo Sucks/Bring Back the Trucks!

  • Rob
  • Joey

    Formerly Known as Prince,

    Here’s a question for you: Did the Landmarks Preservation Commission approve the Hummer and the GMC Yukon pictured above? Did they approve the parking regulations on Prince Street? Is the asphalt running down the middle of the street historically protected too?

    Seems to me that returning Prince Street to people is about as historic as you can get.

  • Anony

    Gotta love how we can get all wound up about sidewalk closing in SOHO, but you can hardly get any discussion of asthma rates and bus depots and park alienation in the Bronx. Screw this white superclass “feeling progressive” crap. Fuck SOHO, let them rot in consumerist nightmare they have wrought. I say NO to street closings and NO to wider sidewalks, not until the bitches of SOHO can find the time to stop crimes like Yankee Stadium and the alienation of 22 acres of parkland.

    Note to Streetsblog: winning this notion of “livable streets” in areas like SOHO and Park Slope is not hard. Even congestion pricing in Manhattan. This is all for show and to feel good; none of this is some hard won fight. The real battlegrouns are outside Manhattan and Brooklyn’s white enclaves.

  • David

    All good points #21. I think your best point is that none of the street vendors actually pay any taxes. And you are right about all peddling being banned from Prince Street. NYPD officers just need to get there fat asses out of their cars and enforce the rules.

  • The street formerly known as Prince

    Joey #23,
    Don’t talk nonsense. Landmarks has nothing to do with vehicles, DOT does. Your attempt at sarcasm is vapid.

    Obviously you didn’t live here before it became a zoo, when trucks clooged the streets and the residents didn’t mind. Nor before that, when manure from the horses quartered in all the neighborhood stables (now garages) were spread throughout the streets of the neighborhood. There is still an occassional horse patty dropped by horses en route to the the Police Stable on Varick.

    People want transportation other than their feet since the invention of the wheel.

    TransAlt should have behaved democratically and consulted the residents who saved this neighborhood, who stopped Robert Moses’ lower Manhattan Expressway, without pulling a goo-goo publicity stunt on Prince.

    I am with #24. Don’t worry about my Prince Street. SoHoites are urban savvy. We just push the tourists to the side.

    TransALt should hold a press conference in the horrenouds Cross Bronx Expresway or Major Deegan, or are they too scared to venture up to the South Bronx? Or perhaps it is not chic enough or likely to pull in the Manhatttan-centric press.

  • ddartley

    Stay friendly, for heaven’s sake.

    Is it really necessary to be nasty to one another as you debate sidewalk space in Soho? Until recently, people here debated issues as big and bigger without getting rude. That makes the discussion more productive.

    If you’re nasty, it makes comment #24 a somewhat more accurate an indictment (despite its language, for which it gets two demerits).

    Don’t let Streetsblog of all things get infected by “internet road rage!”

  • alex

    Former Prince,

    I am not sure why reducing pollution and noise while increasing individual safety and tax revenues, all of which would be a result of eliminating vehicles from Prince, is a bad thing. Please explain why you oppose increased saftey, decreased pollution, and more money for the city.

    Also, as much as we like to romanticize the valiant efforts of yore, the failure of Moses to complete the LME had more to do with money and poor execution than the voices of the community. Economically, it is not viable to replace taxable properties with a tax-subsidized infrastructure. Additionally the “data” in support of construction of the expressway (estimates of usage, pollution projections) were pretty shabby/shady. Without sound evidence of support for the project and the prospect of lost tax revenue, the plan was scrapped. The voice of the community undoubtedly helped bring attention to the issue, but they were not the primary reason for the plan’s defeat.

  • Steve

    Anony and Prince, it is evident as you read through the pages of Streetsblog that most of us are most passionate about, and most involved in, our own neighborhoods as opposed to someone else’s. It’s natural–our own respective neighborhoods are what we each understand the best, where we spend most of our time, and where we may have the most influence on other residents and local politics. I don’t often get very involved in the discussions focused on other people’s neighborhoods, but I read those discussions closely because I care about the entire city and ideas from one part of the city may be transferable to another. And it is not surprising that the sections of the city that are most impacted by congestion–such as SoHo–will naturally serve as the flashpoint for discussion regarding congestion issues.

    I used to live in the Bronx (though barely, 262d St), I have been following developments regarding the Yankee Stadium redevelopment in the mainstream press. Streetsblog featured a few in-depth posts last summer but has not had any lately. If you have information or analysis about the Bronx, you should share it in a comment or as a contribution to Streetsblog. It should be obvious to you that doing so is more likely to develop support for your Bronx issues on this site, than is telling commenters from SoHo that you hope they achieve no progress on the issues that matter most to them until they put your Bronx issues at the forefront of their agenda.

  • The street formerly known as Prince

    Alex, #28: stated, “as much as we like to romanticize the valiant efforts of yore, the failure of Moses to complete the LME had more to do with money and poor execution than the voices of the community.”

    Alex, I respectfully disagree with this assertion. It is absolutely incorrect.
    I refer you to Charles Simpson’s wonderful book “SOHO, The Artist In the City” published a a dozen years after the defeat of the LME. This LME was stopped due to a coalition of the Italians in Little Italy headed by polticians like Louie diSalvo and ‘Duke’ Viggiano, the pioneer artists of SoHo, by cast-iron preservationists like Margot Gayle, and by Greenwich Village activists on the community board #2, enthused by Jane Jacobs.
    It was not killed by lack of money. It was killed by community opposition

    Regarding your other point: No one is against reducing pollution or vehicular congestion. Please don’t put words in my mouth.

    I merely argued against TransAlt’s two means:
    1) widening the sidewalks (Landmarks would not let this happen since the 200-year old sidewalks are protected as much as the cast-iron buildings)
    2) making Prince St car-free on weekends. (Where would the cars go? To TriBeCa or the Village or lower SoHo or NoHo? Those people would loudly object to the increase in vehicles now on their streets and would work to defeat freeing Prince Street from cars

    My suggestion that since illegal peddlers take up half the sidewalk, removing them would increase pedestrian space by a factor of two without months of disruption and a cost of millions of dollars in construction.

  • Joey

    Former Prince,

    Time to move on, my friend. Soho isn’t returning to its 1970’s post-industrial, artist loft, boho roots. God bless the folks who colonized, defended and revived the place. But it can’t be all about preserving old time residents’ free parking spaces.

  • The street formerly known as Prince

    Joey,

    First of all, there is no free-parking for residents in SoHo. It is commercial for five days, and packed by tourists all weekend.

    As a matter of fact, it is one of the few neighborhoods in NYC where thousands of people live that has no residential parking. If you want to eliminate residential ASP parking, fine, do it all over the city.

    Go ahead, go to Queens, Bklyn, or SI and tell them you want to remove curb-side parking from in front of their homes. I also have a windmill for you to attack.

  • Sproule

    Prince-

    I see where you are coming from regarding non-neighborhood people getting involved in a very local example of a city-wide, even nation-wide, issue. But how can you rail against an effort to take back the streetscape from the automobile? And who’s arguing against proper enforcement of vendor laws?

    1) LPD may resist it, but I’m sure one can find a way to preserve the historic slabs of sidewalk while expanding a safe pedestrian zone.

    2) Where will all the traffic go if you close Prince Street to cars on the weekend? If you go through some of the archives here, you’ll see plenty of evidence for an overall reduction in traffic, even in adjacent neighborhoods which leave their streets open to cars. Some of the traffic will disappear. When they close off some of the streets near the World Trade center site, such as St. John, it’s not all cheap leather jackets and funnel cake. It’s an oasis that feels more historic than streets choked with cars and trucks.

    Anony-

    I don’t begrudge you the anti-elitist sentiment, but you sound an Alaskan oilman telling East Coast liberals to keep their noses out of the ANWR issue. How about you start posting here and educating us about the concerns in your neighborhood?

    The livable streets movement cuts across race and class lines, whether you like it or not. True, congestion pricing will probably only improve certain neighborhoods, but done correctly, it could generate a huge amount of revenue to improve public transit in all boroughs.

    And since when is Manhattan the provenance of only rich white people? That may happen someday, but it hasn’t yet. In my neighborhood in Harlem, childhood asthma is a huge problem, and while I concede that keeping cars out of Central Park isn’t on the same level as ending genocide or child labor, it’s a big quality of life issue in New York. I believe it could help stem the asthma crisis in Harlem. And it will make the park a lot safer for the many lower income and middle class people of color who use the northern section of the park.

    I say less screeching and more action.

  • Joey

    Prince,

    First, every time I’ve ever heard Soho residents talk on these topics — particularly the fellow who runs the Soho Alliance — the issue of residential parking comes up front and center. Yesterday there was a fellow ranting at the press conference about how T.A. was just trying to take away Soho resident’s parking. Unfortunately, the Soho Alliance seems to be run by folks who are still trying to defend the early-80’s version of the neighborhood. They are very regressive on these livable streets issues.

    Second, while some neighborhoods in the outer boroughs have good proximity to mass transit and should have serious parking restrictions too, for the most part, there is no comparison between Soho and outer borugh residential neighborhoods. Soho is smack in the middle of the NY Metro region’s Central Business District. It’s in walking distance to all kinds of mass transit and within biking distance of the best that NYC has to offer.

    I’d urge you to check out what Copenhagen has done to its old urban core neighborhoods. Partial and complete pedestranization of these older streets have only created major quality of life benefits. There is no reason the Soho Alliance shouldn’t support, at least, a one day or weekend long car-free trial on Prince. Give it a shot. See how people like it.

  • da

    Instead of more rules & more enforcement… could Soho work as NYC’s first “woonerf”?

  • The street formerly known as Prince

    At community meetings, the neighbors have never been supportive of closing the streets and making malling SoHo. Who wants to live in Disneyland?

    Since proximity to mass transit is true of many neighborhoods, shall we prohibit residential parking to the residents of Hell’s Kitchen, Brooklyn Hgts, the Junction in Brooklyn, LIC?

    If you close Prince, traffic will just spill over to Spring or Houston or Bleecker. Tourists won’t refrain from coming to SoHo just because Prince is closed.

    This blog seems to believe that by making congestion worse people who drive will avoid the neighborhood. Well, we all agree that congestion is horrific on Prince and that doesn’t cause people who walk from avoiding it. It justs gets worse. People’s psychology – whether they own a car or not – is the same. Some people actually lke congestion. Go figure.

    I think we all agree that
    1) tolling the East River Bridges
    2) congestive pricing
    3) and – hope I’m not being too presumptive – having parking permits specific for each borough, or even all of NYC, would be most equitable.

    However, politicians outside of NYC will never go for this without a fight, but let’s try it. Why should Manhattan – from the Battery to Washington Hgts – be invaded by tourists who refuse to take mass transit.

  • ddartley

    da-

    now THERE’S an idea. Spread it around!

  • alex

    Sigh…

    Former Prince, hyperbole is rhetoric that is often used to show the outlandishness of another argument.
    Consider the duplicity of your arguments in support of evicting street vendors and against closing the street to automobiles. An ill-reasoned response to your argument regarding closing the street to cars would posit that the vehicles would just end up clogging some other neighborhood street. However, we know this logic is false because the opening or closure of a road does not exist in a vaccuum. When roads open or close, people recognize the change in their surroundings and adjust their habits accordingly by considering the costs and benefits of the new road conditions (this is why roads built to “relieve congestion” rarely acheive their stated objective). However, if we carry your logic from the closing of roads (vis a vis clogging the nearby neioghborhood roads) to the strict (and sustained) enforcement of street-vending rules, will the vendors clog the sidewalks of nearby neighborhoods? No, as you (and I) assume, the vendors will change their behavior such that they are not breaking the law.
    So, it seems reasonable to allot car drivers the same behavior that we assume for street vendors. This seems reasonable.
    Personally, I think enforcement of street-vending regulations and closure of the street would optimize quality of life for residents and the economic viability of businesses (tax-paying and otherwise).

  • Will

    Prince Street traffic can totally be accommodated by Houston Street.

    Closing Prince to traffic doesn’t have to mean street fair atmosphere. It doesn’t mean street fair on Nassau Street or Mulberry Street.

    West Broadway should be one lane one way south. Northbound traffic should take 6th ave. Give the remainder of West Broadway to pedestrians and vendors.

    Is it a terrible idea for the city to rent some kind of kiosks to vendors? Close the street to traffic, put the kiosks in the middle of the street, city collects rent of some kind on the kiosks, community approves the vendors that use the kiosks, people get more room. No vending allowed that isn’t done from a kiosk. Kiosk vending is easier to track for tax purposes. Might even leave less mess when they close at night. Or would that be too street fair? (I’m not being a smart ass, I’m wondering if this idea has already been shot down.)

  • Hey S.F.K.A.P.,

    I actually used to live on Thompson between Spring and Broome so I know exactly how hectic and mall-like Soho can get at times. But I want to respond to two points you made:

    Shall we prohibit residential parking to the residents of Hell’s Kitchen, Brooklyn Hgts, the Junction in Brooklyn, LIC?

    Not necessarily prohibit parking in these places but limit, better manage, and properly value curbside street space — yes, definitely. We talk about that a lot on the blog.

    If you close Prince, traffic will just spill over to Spring or Houston or Bleecker.

    Not likely. This is a common misconception (and scare tactic used by traffic engineers). If you closed Prince to cars, not every car currently using Prince would move over to Houston and Spring. In fact, the result would very likely be less motor vehicle traffic on all of the streets around Prince. Click this link to see a great British study on "disappearing traffic:"

    http://www.contextsensitivesolutions.org/content/reading/disappearing-traffic/

    And here is the study abstract:

    Disappearing Traffic? The Story So Far

    Reallocating roadspace from general traffic, to improve conditions for pedestrians or cyclists or buses or on-street light rail or other high-occupancy vehicles, is often predicted to cause major traffic problems on neighbouring streets. This paper reports on two phases of research, resulting in the examination of over 70 case studies of roadspace reallocation from eleven countries, and the collation of opinions from over 200 transport professionals worldwide. The findings suggest that predictions of traffic problems are often unnecessarily alarmist, and that, given appropriate local circumstances, significant reductions in overall traffic levels can occur, with people making a far wider range of behavioural responses than has traditionally been assumed. Follow-up work has also highlighted the importance of managing how schemes are perceived by the public and reported in the media, with various lessons for avoiding problems. Finally, the findings highlight that well-designed schemes to reallocate roadspace can often contribute to a multiplicity of different policy aims and objectives.

  • Zach

    Also, can we stop with the fallacy that sidewalks are 200 years old, let alone paving for cars? What’s the source?

    Aaron summed it up well. Soho is mall-like as it is, no doubt, but relocating a few cars hardly turns the space into any more of a mall. Planners are talking about a little elbow room for pedestrians, and everyone else is talking about preserving the privileges of the minority of Soho that drives, plain and simple.

  • This is the first ever study(that I know of) to show an example of parking precluding shopping, and this study is just from interviewing the shoppers currently enduring the adverse conditions. Think of all the people that are not coming because of the existing sidewalk congestion and lack of amenity. The major realization here is that creating a place where people want to come and spend time is more important than creating spaces for parking.

    Perhaps the next step is to propose doing an experiment with one street in Soho, remove parking there, perhaps add a temporary curb with a some amenities (somewhat like Willoughby), we could then track business on that block and survey pedestrian reactions.

    We always say that “when parking is a sticking point, it is an indicator that a community has no broader vision for itself.” Certainly, the best places and districts in the world are not defined by parking but by public space for people. People still shop in midtown and at Rockefeller Center, but parking there is almost nonexistent!

    For more on the parking versus place revolution: http://www.pps.org/info/placemakingtools/issuepapers/place_for_parking

  • The street formerly known as Prince

    Lots of opinions but few scientific studies.

    If Prince is closed, to assume the autos will just disapper is akin to believing in alchemy. Please be realistic.

    ONE MORE TIME: the peddlers are illegal. They break the law. That is why the police had a crackdown this weekend. Why is that so hard for some to understand? What don’t you understand that they are not permitted to be there? Get rid of the peddlers and Prince street congestion will be decreased by half.

    Incidentally, we Prince Sreet denizens actually requested ‘no parking’ signage for Prince on weekends for a year. Because the rest of SoHo ( and most of lower Manhattan) have weekend parking, motorists did not notice the restrictive signs. So, people inadvertatnly parked, got tickets and the steets remained the same. Seeing the inequity, the community board returned to the old signage.

    But knowing facts and history is something that is alien to some people with an agenda.

    Everyone on this blog wants to put their two-cents in on trendy Prince Street, where I live.

    Don’t be imperialists. Look after your own backyard, or your own front yard in this case.

    Prohibit parking in front of your own homes, before you attempt it in front of others who do not share your agenda. Don’t be hypocritical.

    It is easy to type away on a blog. Do someting concrete to relieve the traffic in YOUR own neighborhood.

  • Frank

    Prince,

    This discussion started with the announcement of a very scientific and somewhat unprecedented study indicating that pedestrianizing Prince Street would likely reap a number of significant benefits to residents, visitors and business owners.

    http://www.transalt.org/campaigns/reclaiming/soho_curbing_cars.pdf

  • The street formerly known as Prince

    Frank,

    If more residents come into our already crowded neighborhood, how does that help SoHo residents? More crowds, more garbage, more lines in stores, more pedllers, more noise, more wear on the infrastructure.
    Why would you encourage crowds in our neighborhood?

    Why would you want to mall our neighborhood?
    Try your own first.

    Good for business, yes.
    Good for residents, hardly.

  • Micaela

    Prince,

    More people are going to come to Soho anyway. do you want them bringing 2 tons of spewing, trolling metal with them, or just their overcoat?

    -M

  • Frank

    Prince,

    I’d love to have the shopping avenues in my outer borough neighborhood turned into car-free streets on weekends or at various times during the year and, in fact, I’ve been tangentially involved in trying to make it happen. Unfortunately, unlike Prince Street, I don’t think we have the ideal conditions for a 24-7 car-free zone in my hood but I’ll tell you what: I’d way rather live on a street filled with pedestrians than a street filled with motor vehicle traffic. Benefits for the residents include:

    – No more honking, car alarms, or car sounds period.

    – No more asthma- and cancer-causing pollutants spewing all over the place and piling up on your window sill.

    – No more worrying that your kid or anyone else will run into the street and be mowed down by a truck. Your street, essentially, becomes a front yard. This is especially great if you have kids (I’m betting you don’t).

    – It can be aesthetically really nice: More trees, benches, pieces of public art. How about a fountain in the middle of the street?

    Prince, it doesn’t sound like we’re going to convert you. All I can say is you’ve got to try to go visit Copenhagen and check out the Stroget or visit Istanbul and check out the Istaklal Cadesi or visit Freiburg, Germany or, heck, there are a bunch of good pedestrianized streets out there. It’s hard not to come away from most of these ped streets with the sense that they are way more healthy, pleasant and livable than what we’ve got here in New York. If I lived on Prince I’d at least be open to giving it a shot during a weekend or a holiday shopping week.

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