Car-Free Space Is an Instant Hit on Broadway

Bway_at_45th_Day_1.jpg

Here’s the view from 45th Street looking south at about 1 pm today, about 30 minutes after the city Dept. of Transportation closed Broadway to motor vehicle traffic in Midtown. It’s obviously way too soon to judge how this experiment is working but today, at least, car-free Broadway appears to be a huge hit. 

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  • Hell yes!

  • Finally room to easily maneuver round tourists, lol!

    But seriously, while I no longer live there (sadly), I am VERY glad to see that his is being done and successfully so.

  • Debbie

    I have heard that this will be a permanent change – is that true?

  • anonymous

    I hope they’re going to install a more substantial barrier real soon.

    Debbie, it’s a pilot project until the end of the year, then they’ll decide whether to keep it (which they will).

  • I’m going down tomorrow to check it out. Thanks to everyone that has posted photos on facebook!

  • gecko

    Actually, it seems the whole city has been going carfree in the last couple of days. At least there are not a lot of cars around. What a dream!

  • Clarence

    Head down by noon. Lots of the Livable Streets crew will be around. And (I am told) Janette Sadik-Khan! Plus I believe TImes Square Alliance is holding a free BBQ! Should be great…leaving now.

  • Was there yesterday! 7th Avenue was closed due to a street fair and Broadway was getting ready for the big change. Great to see markings for bike lanes and new ped plazas! A welcome change.

  • gecko
  • W. K. Lis

    Looks like we don’t need that many cars for ourselves. Maybe Detroit should sell some of their overstock inventory of cars to Cuba. I understand that they are still reusing their old cars, so maybe they could use some of the cars that are not selling here.

  • Outstanding. In Sacramento, meanwhile, the city leaders are considering reopening the ped/transit K Street mall to motor vehicles. To enhance the retail environment, apparently. They can’t seem to explain the similarly lagging retailing culture on adjacent L and J Streets, which have always had vehicle traffic access. Thanks New York for continuing to show the way.

  • Did this change actually affected the traffic on nearby streets as badly as the critics said it would? Or is it too early to judge?

    Anyways nice move NYC! Looking forward to see how this will develop in future.

  • christine

    A great day for New Yorkers: Freedom AND safety at last …

    Its Sunday , 7 p.m. on Memorial Day week end. Dusk . Heavy weather.
    On Broadway at 43rd Street the pedestrians take tentative steps as if coming out of a long confinement in a narrow space. They have that stunned look on their face .. A woman walks up the pedestrian section filming it all the way. There is space. There is time. They are all looking up at the billboards in the safety of the plaza. No one can quite believe it.

  • I was there Sunday afternoon and to no surprise nobody actually waited for the City to officially close Broadway. There were some orange barrels in place and the tourists just did what they normally do… posed with the Naked Cowboy, took snapshots, ate street food, and stood in the middle of the street looking up.

    On the downside, those with human powered vehicles seemed a bit confused by this whole process. Some cyclists and pedicab drivers walked through the reclaimed space. Others stuck to 7th Avenue and contended with Times Square traffic. It’ll be interesting to see how DOT resolves the bike lane which was still a work in progress.

    Memorial Day (Weekend) traffic is always light in Manhattan because everyone who can leaves the city. We won’t see the real impact of these changes till Tuesday at the earliest.

  • My son and I got there around noon, but we saw no sign of the promised movie or ribs. However, we did get free hot dogs, and there was lots of good live music. The signage is still kind of overwhelming, but it was the first time I’ve ever felt like there was a place for me in Times Square, and the first time I stayed there for longer than it took to buy a CD or a toy. We spent about an hour sitting in various places, and generally hanging out. It wasn’t too crowded then.

    The best part was that there was lots of movable seating. Andy Wiley-Schwarts (who stopped to chat for a few minutes with us) is obviously an expert on the work of Holly Whyte, and people seemed really happy to have some control over their own seating.

    We also said hi to Mark Gorton and family, and saw the Commissioner relaxing in a lawn chair near 43rd Street.

  • It’s got movable chairs? Awesome! I didn’t know Whyte was an advocate of this–I used to read him when I was a kid. NYC needs soooo much more of this. Places to sit, mingle, relax. We are so poor in that area compared to other cities/cultures.

  • It was fantastic. The Hebrew National dogs hit the spot, there was a variety of street entertainment, and a lot of people out there. Between Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square and Hudson River park, it was fantastic to see so many people enjoying the City like a giant yard.

    Plus, I got to see Clarence.

  • So far everyone likes it except drivers and stasis-loving curmudgeons. But this morning I’ve noticed a new demographic of haters—reporters and anchors who drive to work.

    This morning it was Sukanya Krishnan—co-anchor on PIX Morning News—who said that “it’s good for tourists, but the rest of us have to deal with it”. Speak for yourself sweetie.

    Another one from a while back is CBS News’s infamous Steve Bartelstein, who’s reaction to the Mayor’s Congestion Pricing plan was act like his cancer was going to return, shave his head, and start zapping his neighbors with lasers again.

  • Moser

    No big shock that most of the NYC press corps are motorheads, suburban or otherwise – nice that the NYT kept Willy Neumann’s crabby ass off the story.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    I was actually kind of looking forward to the Willy Neumann report on car-free Broadway. If anyone would be able to find the Times Square furniture shop owner who is angry about his customers’ inability to double-park in front of the store, it’d be good old Willy.

  • Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    Think Twice: You nailed it. The newest enemy of livable streets for sure are reporters for the local news (I will exempt NY1 here again, since they always do the best job)

    I think I have posted this here before, but I was interviewed twice on camera about Summer Streets last year. Both times after the interview was over, reporter and I continued chatting and the reporters moaned about how events like Summer Streets are gonna make it so much harder for them to get around to cover stories. I mean true crybaby kind of stuff here….

  • The pedestrian space near times Square is great, but let’s not forget the transformative buffered bike path leading from Columbus Circle to Times Square?

  • Interesting, Bicyclesonly. Anyone know what’s going to be in the left lane? Car parking? Sidewalk extension?

  • Mike

    Looks like it will be pedestrian space (that’s what the double solid line seems to mean elsewhere).

    Worth noting that after the more-or-less failed experiment between 42nd and 35th with putting the bike lane in between the sidewalk and the plaza space, DOT has learned from its mistake and is now putting the plaza space next to the sidewalk, with the bike lane next to the plaza.

  • “The newest enemy of livable streets for sure are reporters for the local news”

    Reporters are essentially the same personality type as politicians. They only say what they think people want to hear, and like many politicians they’ve trained themselves to believe that this is a war between the “Manhattan elite” and the “salt of the earth driver”.

  • Cap’n, don’t even speculate that curbside parking will be allowed here! If you look at the first video, where we cross 56th and 55th Streets, you will see islands separating the bicycle lane from the motor vehicle traffic, at the intersections, just as on the Ninth Avenue cycle track. I’m hoping for the same treatment here, with plastic bollards strung between the islands to keep the cars out.

    But seriously, the utility is limited unless there is an uptown cycle track installed on 6th Ave . . .

  • Didn’t listen to 1010 WINS this morning so I guess I missed John Montone’s sympathetic interview with an irate cabbie, followed by his puns of the Mayor and the DOT. Yeah, he’s predictable.

  • Walked through the area this morning at about 3:15am (don’t ask) and it was pretty nice not to have to deal with cars coming at you from quite so many places.

  • Doug Irvine

    Walked up from 34th street this morning. South of 42nd is more complete with chairs, tables, umbrellas, and planters. Times Square is a work in progress. There was lots of garbage lying around but the cleaning crew was getting to it.

    Most commuters were befuddled and didn’t know if they should seek the sidewalk or not. Saw another person with a smile on his face mouth “This is great” to himself as he came upon this new park in midtown.

  • andrew

    Bicyclesonly, that video is too cute.
    JSK Has to see it

  • J-Uptown

    I biked through there on Monday afternoon and this morning. Since Broadway no longer goes anywhere continuously, drivers are avoiding it like the plague. South of 42nd Street, Broadway seems overbuilt even at two lanes. On Monday I was able to walk up the middle of Broadway from 40th to 42nd Street (i.e. not in the closed section). It felt like summer streets. Today, south of 42nd st., I felt no need to bike in the bike lane, as there were so few cars on the street. That said, it is much more difficult to get through the squares than before. I’ll gladly deal with it, though, if it means a generally comfortable ride or walk through Midtown.

  • Isn’t it interesting that some of the criticism of the new space, including Times which otherwise loved it, is that it didn’t spring wholly formed and perfect in its initial incarnation? Of course there will be tweaks along the way! Of course some of the seating will change! Of course the planters and bike lanes might be shifted around as time goes on. That’s not a bad thing, that’s progress. A government agency that studies how things are used and reacts with appropriate changes and improvements? Is that a bad thing?

    And besides, it’s not as if roads never get improved upon or changed after they are opened. The DOT is constantly adding or moving lanes, adding lights, changing traffic direction of some streets, etc. Why hold pedestrian space to a different standard, then?

    The new space is great and will only get better as time goes on.

  • Great videos, BicyclesOnly! After a couple of hours reading vicious ugly comments from irate motorists who believe that traffic cops deserve to be run over and that all real New Yorkers need to drive through Times Square, I needed that….

  • Go ahead and show her Andrew! But make sure to bring her attention to my comment beneath . . . what use is a one-way cycle track?

  • gecko

    Going around town things seem to be accelerating; lots of new kermit green bike lanes in the village, around washington square park; things seem to be coming together; very encouraging.

  • From City Limits: “THE EYES HAVE IT: NYPD PLANS MORE CAMERAS” including in Mid-Town. See http://www.citylimits.org/content/articles/viewarticle.cfm?article_id=3751

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