Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Bollards

NYC Finally Cracking Down on Security Barriers

Security5.jpg In the aftermath of September 11th, concrete and steel barriers sprouted like  mushrooms around big buildings in New York City. It almost seemed to me to be a kind of status symbol. You knew you worked in an important building if your landlord had hardened it against truck bombs.

The barriers were often ugly and almost always stole vast tracts of sidewalk space from the public. Meanwhile, their security benefit was usually questionable. While annexing public space from the city's pedestrians the bollards did absolutely nothing to prevent a rental truck filled with explosives from rolling freely into Midtown (a camera-based congestion charging system like London's might help with that, however).

Jeff Zupan of the Regional Plan Association raised the issue here on Streetsblog in July with his short photo series of sidewalk-blocking bollards (here and here). He also wrote an excellent essay, Bombs, Barriers and Bollards for the RPA's Spotlight on the Region newsletter.

Five years after September 11th, the City has responded. Saturday's New York Times reports:

After evaluations by the New York Police Department, the city's Department of Transportation has demanded that many of the planters and concrete traffic medians known as jersey barriers be taken away. So far, barriers have been removed at 30 buildings out of an estimated 50 to 70 in the city.

Officials found that the barriers obstructed pedestrian flow and, in the case of planters, often ended up being used as giant ashtrays. Counterterrorism experts also concluded that in terms of safety, some of the barriers, which building owners put in of their own accord, might do more harm than good.

"Wherever possible, we want to avoid the appearance that the city is under siege or unwelcoming," Iris Weinshall, the city's transportation commissioner said in an e-mail message.

Photo: Jeff Zupan. 

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Disabled NYer’s are Victims of Gov. Hochul’s Congestion Pricing Pause

So many New Yorkers can’t use the closest subway station to their homes because they don't have an elevator. And Gov. Hochul just halted funding for 23 new lifts.

July 23, 2024

DOT Will Fast-Track Private Sidewalk E-Bike Charging Stations

The mayor announced a new sidewalk e-bike charging station initiative, along with progress on the e-bike battery swap program and more money to FDNY for educational outreach.

July 23, 2024

Tuesday’s Headlines: LEGO Finally Gets It Edition

Streetsblog has had our issues with LEGO over the years, but we're willing to forgive. Plus other news.

July 23, 2024

Speeding Fuels Pedestrian Death Crisis As Council Stalls ‘Sammy’s Law’ Changes

Pedestrian fatalities were up 27 percent in the first six months of the year compared to 2023.

July 23, 2024

Bike Rack Saves Pedestrians in Crash on Busy Brooklyn Street

The white Hyundai involved in the crash has been nabbed 10 times by city speed- and red-light cameras since Oct. 10, 2023, city records show.

July 22, 2024
See all posts