The big event for the week of Thanksgiving (and the only calendar item we’re highlighting) is the public forum on the 34th Street Transitway put on by Community Board 5 tonight. It’s a critical moment to speak up for prioritizing walking and transit on one of NYC’s busiest, most iconic streets.
Passengers on 34th Street currently travel at an average 4.5 mph in regular curbside bus lanes. The transitway project can set a major precedent, establishing the city’s first physically separated bus lanes and speeding up the tens of thousands of daily bus trips on 34th Street. New curb extensions, pedestrian medians, and, potentially, public plazas would transform the corridor and transfer large swaths of space from traffic to people.
With pedestrians already spilling out onto the street during rush hours and substantial new development planned on the West Side, now’s the time to re-design 34th Street to work better for greener, more efficient transportation. But as you might expect with a change this big, not all the neighbors are pleased. Opposition is strongest on the east side of Midtown, where the main complaint seems to be that the transitway would block deliveries, drop-offs and pick-ups directly in front of personal residences, a concern that DOT is working to address.
This NIMBY website also claims that giving more space to walking and transit will make pedestrians worse off and threaten public health. An anti-transitway petition posted on the site is being collected by the Murray Hill Neighborhood Association.
Of the three community board districts along the route, we’re hearing that CB6 (the east side) does not like the project and CB4 (the west side) is mostly in favor of it. That puts CB5 in a critical position and makes a good showing by supporters at tonight’s meeting all the more important.
The forum starts at 6:00 p.m. at the McBurney YMCA, 125 West 14th Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.