Rodriguez Wants DOT to Remedy NYC’s Most Cramped Sidewalks

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Sixth Avenue by Radio City Music Hall. Photo: Kevin Case/Flickr

City Council transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez wants DOT to address overcrowding on some of the city’s most cramped sidewalks. A bill introduced this week would require DOT to identify 10 locations with the heaviest pedestrian traffic volumes and “develop strategies for improving safety and traffic flow at such locations.”

“In this city, most New Yorkers rely on public transportation — and we also walk,” Rodriguez told AMNY. “It’s important that this is a starting point to look for opportunities to make sidewalks more walkable and safer and make sure the DOT has the data to make that possible.”

Speaking with Gothamist, Rodriguez spokesperson Russell Murphy identified Seventh and Eighth avenues in the vicinity of Penn Station and Times Square as areas in need of upgrades.

A temporary sidewalk extension on 32nd Street near Penn Station, installed by Vornado Realty Trust in 2015, was popular with the public, but plans to make it permanent were shelved after businesses complained about the lack of loading zones. Vornado’s Plaza 33, on 33rd Street at Seventh Avenue, returned this year after a successful 2015, but Vornado and DOT have not committed to making it permanent.

And while those projects can help alleviate crowding on cross streets, no plans are on the table to widen sidewalks on Midtown avenues, where there are so many people on foot that during peak hours they can’t fit on the sidewalk and walk in traffic lanes.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s revamp of Penn Station, announced this week, doesn’t address the sidewalk crush on surrounding streets.

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Seventh Avenue by Penn Station. Video still: Streetfilms

Midtown isn’t the only part of NYC where pedestrians spill off the sidewalk. Murphy also cited sidewalk congestion in downtown Flushing as a safety concern.

DOT has taken steps to give pedestrians more room to breathe in Midtown and Flushing, via plazas and sidewalk widenings. But there’s clearly a lot more work to do. Systematically identifying and prioritizing sidewalk expansion projects is a logical next step.

Rodriguez expects to see results in the near term. The bill, if adopted into law, would have DOT post the results of its pedestrian volume study online by next April, along with status reports on what measures the agency has taken to improve conditions at each location.

Roosevelt Avenue and Main Street in Downtown Flushing. Photo: David Meyer.
  • Vooch

    1) Broadway should Be pedestriazed from Union Square to Central Park.
    2) Fifth from 59th to 34th should Be 2 lanes buses only with a third Lane for Bus loading/unloading, plus PBL; reallocate approx. 30′ of Fifth for Expanded sidewalks
    3) All other avenues should have sidewalk returned to their Orginal widths

    4) https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/956934b7b9c03749ff5c3109cd127c40ad6705024960cf39e34cbc766ef27052.jpg plus These Signs should Be installed throughout CBD

  • Over 6 years ago, and nothing done yet.

  • Janet Liff

    Absolutely agreed on 5th Avenue: From 34th to 59th, buses, bikes and peds only. It’s the best solution. South of 34th, keep the dedicated bus lanes and protect the bike lane.

  • AnoNYC

    Would like to see Broadway and Lexington Ave pedestrianized for starts.

  • J

    The problem has existed for decades, but it’s only recently that walking has been seen as a valued form of transportation and at DOT it still takes second seat to driving and parking.

  • J

    ABOUT. DAMN. TIME.

  • Vooch

    agreed, 5th phase 1 would be you suggest, then in 3 years revisit to see if 34th to 23rd could benefit from same solution as 57th to 34th.

  • Sean Kelliher

    Ydanis Rodriguez is especially skilled at telling the livable streets crowd what they want to hear. Often missing from his speeches though are actual plans to accomplish these things, and the cold reality that in order to give to one group you actually need to take away from another. If you want faster bus service, for example, and wider sidewalks, and good bike infrastructure you need to dedicate space to them…and that space needs to come from somewhere and someone.

    I know the pain of crowded sidewalks. I feel it every weekday as I go to and from my office near Rockefeller Center. I noticed also that there is a lot of space reserved for media parking on Sixth Avenue. The New York Press Club has a database online so I checked. There are 48 spaces on Sixth Avenue between 46th and 55 Streets reserved for free NYP parking. That’s a couple of blocks worth (one side of the street).

    I assume Rodriguez approves of the use because he’s worked hard to try to take it one step further: introducing a bill that would give media employees 24/7 free parking (legal or illegal) anywhere in NYC.

    My point is that talking about livable cities while you’re supporting measures that work against the goal doesn’t accomplish much. I hope people realize this.

  • AMH

    Wow. He’s going to hear from me about that.

  • neroden

    (0) Official Truck Loading Zones, at least two in each direction on every block of every numbered street in midtown and downtown Manhattan, so that delivery trucks never “need” to double-park. Remove parking to make way for these. Additional truck loading zones in other parts of the city.

  • neroden

    I think you have to leave delivery truck access on 5th Avenue. “No cars” is OK though…

  • Vooch

    Every avenue and every crosstown street in CBD have paid parking;

    first 10 minutes $5
    second 10 mins $10 more
    third 10 mins $20 more
    fourth 10 mins $40 more
    and $40/every 10 mins thereafter

    from 1900 – 0500 paid parking costs $20

    this alternative should turn over spaces PDQ

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    Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !ch537f:
    On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
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  • Anon resident

    MIdtown is a traffic nightmare currently on 6th Avenue. In front of WSJ offices cars double parked as you go north, people flowing off the sidewalks and just a couple of months ago the Hilton Hotel removed their driveway, this leads to double parking for drop off and pickup of guests and door staff are in the middle of the street flagging down cabs.

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