Shared Space, Broadway’s Car-Free Garden, and Other Summer Highlights From NYC DOT

A car-free block of Broadway in the "Garment District Urban Garden."
A car-free block of Broadway in the "Garment District Urban Garden."

NYC DOT is on a roll this summer as construction season brings a slew of new projects to improve walking and biking, including some design treatments the city is trying out for the first time. These short videos are my way of saying thanks.

I was away for the ribbon-cutting on the new shared space block at Madison Square, but I recently got to check it out, and it works extremely well:

For a quick point of reference, check out this old Streetfilm from 2009, after DOT first expanded the pedestrian zones at Madison Square.

It’ll be interesting to see where DOT goes with the shared space idea in the years ahead.

Meanwhile, a short walk away, two blocks of Broadway (one between 36th and 37th streets, another between 39th and 40th) have been transformed into a car-free oasis. It’s called the Garment District Urban Garden and has been in place for most of the summer. It’s a temporary treatment though, scheduled to end on September 1. So get over there to see it if you haven’t already. It really shines when people are on their lunch break.

To many, painting this two-way bike path on the Queens Boulevard crossing over the Sunnyside rail yard might night seem like no big deal, but for those of us who ride it, the difference is huge. Now that the bike path is properly marked with #freshkermit, there’s much less confusion. People walk on the pedestrian path, making the experience of riding the bike path much less frustrating and smooth. This section is a direct link to the Queensboro (NOT Ed Koch!) Bridge car-free path. (See how the approach to the path took shape in this short Streetfilm.)

I have never missed a Summer Streets since 2008, and I’m not about to start. Even when I was in tremendous pain following a hip injury due to a car crash six years ago, I made it. Since our son was born, my wife and I have brought him out every year.

While cruising to another shoot earlier this month, I picked up about 20 shots of Summer Streets and threw together this montage for future b-roll use, and I figured why not share!

The one suggestion I have is the same I have every year: Summer Streets isn’t big enough and crams too much into not enough space and time. It’s popular, and it gets ridiculously crowded at some bottlenecks. I hope DOT and Commissioner Polly Trottenberg can give us something even more great in 2018.

  • Rex Rocket

    The Garment Center thing is a mess- cables on the ground, poor signage, wasted space…true, better than a street full of Ubers and box trucks, but really, this is NY, not Delaware, and something much more interesting should have been done with the street.

  • Vooch

    Inch by Inch we are winning. Changing a ingrown Robert Moses culture takes time.

    Yes – it’s taking too long and YES these designs are sooo weak, BUT every step is a step forward.

    Meanwhile have some fun with these satirical videos:

  • Kevin J Keley

    Remember that Women’s Strike for Peace blurb, “It’ll be a fine day when peace organizations have all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber”? Well, it’ll be a finefine day when NYC DOT rules that cars will be allowed to use Manhattan avenues for six hours on each of three summer Saturdays. Cyclists will be restricted to 362 days of car-free pedaling per year.

  • AMH

    I stumbled upon the Garment District plazas, and what a great calm space in a part of town sorely lacking them. Something about the road tattoo and added greenery really makes the space pleasant. Glad they maintained the bikeway through the area though.

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