Could “Open Sundays” Help Solve Prince Problems?

Here is the slide show outlining the DOT proposal to open Prince Street to pedestrians on summer Sundays. As we reported yesterday, the plan isn’t popular with some SoHo residents, who say it will turn Prince into another Mulberry Street.

But Community Board 2’s Ian Dutton, a supporter of the concept, doesn’t intend to let that happen.

"I don’t want to go in that direction with Prince Street, and that’s certainly not the direction the neighborhood wants to go," says Dutton. "Prince Street is already a destination."

Dutton believes the goal of "Open Sundays" should not be to bring more people to the neighborhood, but to alleviate the current public space crunch. To that end, the CB 2 Traffic and Transportation Committee wants to form a group of stakeholders and community board members to look at problems, like sidewalk vending, and figure out how to incorporate pedestrianization as an acceptable remedy. This might include selecting a different street, says Dutton, or adding more streets to the program (which could equal less overall traffic). It might also mean allowing vehicles to pass in certain instances, like to provide elderly or disabled access.

"I really was disappointed that DOT didn’t have a more full-bodied approach," Dutton says, but adds: "I think the level of outcry was based on a campaign of misinformation."

  • Eric

    Um, 14 Sundays during the summer with no commitment to permanence? Come on, people, give it a try.

    If it really sucks, just think of all the “I-told-you-so” posts you’ll be able to plaster on Streetsblog.

    Rather than a knee-jerk no, why not engage with the City to enforce vending rules and regulations? Admittedly, those European street-vending set-ups look better than the ones in SoHo, so why not bargain with the City for design guidelines in return for closing the street to cars?

  • jmc

    When are they going to do the presentation for the 42nd St pedestrianization?

  • Bobby Dei

    Death by 1000 paper-cuts will not slay the traffic monster of Lower Manhattan.

    Obvious Solutions:
    1) East River Tolls.
    2) Verrazzano Toll reversal.

  • SoHo Girl

    Look at the pictures of all the people in the bike lane, which is usually occupied by idling trucks or limos. Bikes are rare. They still stay on Houston.

    See! No bikes in these pictures. This bike lane is an abject failure.

    And these are the same people who want to put in a pedestrian mall? That too would be an abject failure.

    What do these folk know about SoHo. Nothing?

    I’m glad the mall idea was turned down at the community board.

    Try this in your own neighborhood if you think it is such a good idea.

  • SoHo (and I know how to spell it) Resident also

    My primary comments are here:

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2008/03/07/soho-partnership-dot-propose-car-free-sundays-on-prince-st

    BUT let me point out that the photo is a bit deceptive in that it was taken at the point where a band sets up and plays on the street, causing a crowd to gather around them and people to go around.

    Enforcement? You gotta be kidding. The community has been actively asking for that for years.

    SoHo Resident

  • Dave

    If there were another neighborhood as well suited to pedestrianization I think they would try it.
    But Soho is an open-air shopping mall already with narrow streets and is relatively small so it fits the bill.

    NIMBY NIMBY NIMBY really gets old and it seems to be prevalent around here. That’s the real problem with the CB’s; they respond to all the small-minded NIMBY-criers so nothing gets done.

    A shame that the greatest city in the world is so far behind the global curve on livable streets and mass transit because of NIMBY-types.

  • mike

    SoHo girl – Using one photo to conclude that no bicyclists use the Prince St bike lane is straight up bogus (maybe you should try counting them). Then leaping from this invalid conclusion to invent another one, that Open Sundays will fail, is even more tenuous.

    Perhaps you should first take the time to investigate similar successful implementations of pedestrian-only streets around the world.

    Finally, it’s pretty obvious that the DoT does, in fact, know SoHo. Do you? Or do you only see what you want to see?

  • Sheila E.

    SoHo NIMBY’s = Gerritsen Beach NIMBY’s.

    http://www.gerritsenbeach.net/2008/02/14/green-streets-died-tonight/

    Sad but true. There’s no real difference.

  • anonymous

    I think a thousand little paper cuts is exactly how the traffic monster of lower manhattan will be slain. East River tolls have been a political challenge for many years now, and it doesn’t seem like they’ll get passed anytime soon. But the DOT can work, little by little, to reduce street capacity for cars, and hope nobody notices until it’s too late. A good project for DOT to look at in SoHo is sidewalk widening and general improvement of Broome St. Narrow it from three car lanes to two, and I bet both pedestrian quality of life and car traffic flow will improve. Since the Holland Tunnel’s capacity is fixed, the streets feeding into it should be designed not to try to put in more traffic than it can handle.

  • Eric

    SoHo Girl, I also don’t see any moving cars in that photo, only parked ones. So why don’t we close the street to vehicle traffic?

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