DOT Plans to Turn Broadway by Madison Square Into a “Shared Space”

Images: DOT
Images: DOT

DOT is set to redesign a block of Broadway by Madison Square Park as a permanent “shared space,” where motor vehicles are allowed but pedestrians take priority.

On Tuesday DOT presented the Manhattan Community Board 5 transportation committee with a plan to establish Broadway between 25th and 24th streets as a 5 mph zone with mixed pedestrian, cyclist, and car traffic [PDF]. The idea is that people on foot would have free range, essentially creating a larger plaza space out of the block, while low volumes of cars would still be permitted and drivers would be expected to travel at walking speeds.

This one-block segment of Broadway, where DOT expanded the pedestrian area known as Flatiron Plaza in 2008, would be converted from southbound traffic flow to northbound, and the zone of travel for motor vehicles would be demarcated by neckdowns, signage, and big rocks to signal motorists to slow down.

The project is intended to make it safer and easier to walk in an area where there is more foot traffic than cars. Crashes decreased by 29 percent in the two years after DOT installed the plaza, according to DOT.

flatiron-shared-street-2

South of the new public space, 24th Street would be realigned to meet Fifth Avenue at a right angle, with more direct crosswalks, plus a new one across Broadway east of Fifth.

The existing bike-share station would be shifted north and sited within the shared street space. While cyclists will have access to the shared street, they will also have an official route around it, with the Broadway bike lane jogging over to a contraflow segment on 25th Street and then Fifth Avenue.

The CB 5 committee endorsed the plan, along with the Fifth Avenue bikeway. Construction, to be managed by the Department of Design and Construction, is expected to take 18 months and scheduled to begin this summer.

The shared space concept is a novel approach for DOT that could be expanded to other streets. The narrow, low-traffic streets of the Financial District, in particular, are considered an excellent candidate for shared space design.

  • Bob

    It looks great – but i don’t understand why they need to permit cars on Broadway between 24-25th. Anyone who wants to go west on 25th can just do so from 5th; why randomly let cars pull a u-turn onto Broadway? Why not just give that entire space to pedestrians??

  • I came here to say the same thing.

  • Are bikes allowed to go the “wrong way” in the shared space?

  • In the real definition of the term, yes.

  • BrownBrown

    I believe the idea is to implement incremental change. Continuing to allow cars into the street lowers push back from the motoring community, while still making large scale change to the mechanics of the street. If the changes work well, and the community likes the changes, they can make further changes and shift to more permanent designs at the same time.

  • AnoNYC

    Deliveries and drop offs perhaps?

    It’s being reversed so that most people wouldn’t bother. Most people are going to turn west from 5th Ave on W 25th St as you stated.

  • AnoNYC

    So the pedestrianization of Broadway continues.

    Can’t wait till it’s fully pedestrianized between Times Sq and Herald Sq. Maybe in a few years now?

  • Jeff

    I’d say Times Square and Union Square is the logical conclusion of all of this, maybe even all the way up to Columbus Circle.

  • AnoNYC

    Agreed but with the NIMBYs and community boards may take more than 10 years for all of that.

  • bondstreet

    Union Square to 108th!

  • Im more concerned about the NYPD definition

  • My guess is DOT will put up signs clarifying things like this.

  • Vooch

    Same reason that 24th still needs to run through. In any sane world 24th would simply be stopped to motor vehicles at Broadway, BUT one needs to be gentle with motorists; they are delicate and vulnerable.

    Give it time and the compelling nature of Broadway as a linear pedestrian zone will be overwhelming.

  • nanter

    First time doing this in NY! Wow! I saw these types of shared spaces in action in Italy and they worked well. It’s going to take quite some time for the drivers in this town to wrap their heads around the concept that they’d have to drive *anywhere* at walking speed. I hope there are no incidents that prevent expansion of this concept. Another place this would work well would be many of the smaller streets in Chinatown.

  • Jonathan Cohn

    Why allow cars on Broadway between 23rd and 24th? 5th Ave will get you there.

  • Vooch

    Mott Street Chinatown is a perfect opportunity

  • Vooch

    Strauss Park !!

  • Vooch

    I’m more concerned why 24th is expanded. Why wasn’t 24th simply dead ended ? Hardly any motor traffic uses that block of 24th

    just dead end it

  • elvevaag

    Yes, loading/deliveries is the only reasonable explanation, and one that has been mentioned by the DOT before for not closing vestigial streets elsewhere.

  • elvevaag

    Dead-ending the street would mean closing it off for the entire block from 6th to 5th to vehicular traffic, because the ROW isn’t wide enough for two-way traffic.
    In general that would be great, but you do have to leave provisions in place for businesses to load and unload deliveries and so forth.

  • Vooch

    the ROW is as wide as every single street that dead ends into the East River

    all solved

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    This has the potential to be NYC’s first block of fietstraat or it’s most epic ticket trap. The signage will determine which one…

  • reasonableexplanation

    Not a bad idea, actually. I’ve seen this work better when sidewalks are removed completely, as in, the whole shared street is on the same level.

  • Vooch

    dude

    agree again !

  • BrownBrown

    Yes, you need to be gentle with us. We require so much more space than just plain old people, and we are currently the victims of numerous enormous conspiracies and wars.

  • reasonableexplanation

    If only we could agree on the broader idea that cities should be easy to drive through AND great for peds! Push cars to good quality highways and nice wide fast arteries, let side streets be as slow and shared as they need to be.

  • Vooch

    I’ll give you the Cross Bronx 🙂

  • Paul Benson

    Food trucks park there frequently!

  • Elliot

    I like this plan from a pedestrian perspective, but clearly the reason traffic is still being allowed on Bway between 24th and 25th is to create a fancy driveway for the new “10 Madison Square West” condo building that now occupies that block of Broadway. Get ready for a lot of big SUVs and Bentleys waiting in the “shared space” for the occupants of the condos upstairs.

  • nycspaces

    Absolutely disgusting, just creating a private driveway for a developer and the billionaire buyers of high-end condos at 10 Mad Sq. One of the grossest give-backs ever issued by the city and causes crazy issues for people trying to go downtown who then get forced to 7th Avenue or up 6th. What a mess.

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