Mime Threat Overshadows Car-Free Prince Street Proposal

If you read the comments on the previous post, then you know something interesting is in the works for Prince Street. Next Tuesday, Community Board 2’s Transportation Committee will consider a proposal to turn a six-block stretch of Prince Street, from Lafayette to West Broadway, into a car-free zone on Sundays from 11am to 6pm. The pilot project would likely run from Memorial to Labor Day. The idea for this long-sought reallocation of street space emerged from discussions between DOT and the SoHo Partnership, the neighborhood’s innovative welfare-to-work program.

Not surprisingly, an opposition movement has already sprung into action. Faithful Streetsblog readers will recall the SoHo Alliance as the neighborhood group that seems to specialize in fighting street vendors, new bike lanes, sidewalk widenings and, generally, any livable street improvement that threatens to diminish long-time SoHo residents’ access to on-street parking.

A tipster reports that the Alliance is papering the neighborhood with flyers arguing against the pilot project. Here’s a sample bullet point from the flyer, which can be found in its entirety, below:

The current do-wop group will attract other noisy street performers to entertain the increased crowds of tourists. Food vendors will likely spring up. Will Jugglers and mimes be far behind?

Though the specter of mime-filled streets truly is terrifying (and quite politically savvy — I mean, who’s going to speak up for the mimes?) does a bad case of coulrophobia outweigh the potential benefits of car-free Sundays?

As it is, Prince Street is jam-packed with pedestrians and vendors on the weekend yet the majority of the public right-of-way is hogged up by a horn-honking, exhaust-spewing, barely-moving armada of SUV’s and luxury sedans. When London pedestrianized some of its most popular shopping streets, it led to a bonanza for local businesses, a PR coup for the city’s sustainability agenda and a generally nicer, more pleasant public realm for residents and tourists to enjoy.

If you want to help make a car-free Prince Street a reality, then speak up at Community Board 2’s Transportation Committee meeting next Tuesday, March 11 at 7:30pm. The meeting will be at the NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, room 713. You can be sure the other guys will be there.

The Soho Alliance flyer can be found after the jump…

soho_mauling030.jpg

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