DOT Gives Its Regards to Broadway


Last night’s Tony winners aren’t the only newsmakers on Broadway these days. In May DOT quietly rolled out plans to give the city’s premier north-south thoroughfare the livable streets treatment from Times Square to Herald Square (between 42nd and 35th Streets). The redesign replaces two car travel lanes with pedestrian plazas and a protected bike lane.

Seems like another too-good-to-be-true improvement, but it’s for real. Check out specifics here: PDF.

Word is the 42nd to 35th Street design, which looks to have been developed in cooperation with the Times Square Alliance Business Improvement District, will be implemented this summer. Meanwhile, a few blocks south, reclamation work is underway around Madison Square Park, as previewed in remarks from Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and promised in DOT’s Sustainable Streets plan.

What with all the changes on Broadway and the debut of New York’s own Ciclovía (more coverage coming soon), it looks like it’s going to be a boffo summer.

Broadway ped plaza details after the jump.


  • I can’t access the PDF; I’m getting a “page not found” error.

  • Why does IKEA Brooklyn hate bicycles?

    These street changes throughout the city are really amazing. I tried the 9th st. one last night on my bike.

    The problem is that it’s all well and good to re-do all these streets, but why isn’t the city forcing new construction to take bikes into consideration?

    NYC’s first IKEA is about to open, and they’ve told me that they might not be including any bike racks – they certainly don’t list bicycle as a way to get to their store.

    Read more here:

  • Urbanis, try the PDF link again. Should be working now.

  • Brad, thanks. It worked!

  • wow! JSK, gettin er done…

  • I love the vision–pedestrian living rooms and cycle paths. What’s there not to like?

    I hope DoT will also give some love to routes heading uptown. Right now we have the 9th Ave lane and the Broadway design. 8th Ave could really use more of a makeover–cars are in the bike lane all the time! And it takes nerves of steel to ride through Columbus Circle.

  • ddartley

    Hopefully a couple years of these improved conditions will create a hunger on Broadway for more of this, ABOVE 42nd St. Herald Square notwithstanding, I always find the stretch between 42nd and 49th to be the real nightmare.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’ll have to see, but as it is I’m be relucant to move my home commute from 5th Avenue over to a new placard parking zone on Broadway.

    Perhaps they could go the “bicycle boulevard” route on Park, with the route blocked to through motor vehicles in specfic places and lights timed for 18 mph.

  • momos

    JSK delivers again. This is fantastic. The most exciting element of the plan is the PROTECTED bike lane in the heart of midtown — one of the otherwise most hostile biking environments in the city.

    Imagine if this plan was complimented by Vision42, the proposal to close 42nd and 34th to cars and install river-to-river surface light rail linking together all the major transportation hubs: Grand Central, Penn Stn, Port Authority, as well as massive residential & commercial districts & institutions like the UN.

    Check it out at

  • Koch Bike Lane

    This looks like a crash fest between pedestrians stepping off the curb and cyclists. Why does DOT think curbside bike lanes in the core of Midtown will stay free of pedestrians when the adjacent sidewalks are jammed? As shown above at 39th street and Broadway, this doesn’t widen the sidewalk. Instead, it creates a non-continuous strip of sidewalk adjacent to the parking lane. A simple sidewalk widening and signals timed to traffic calm traffic to less than 20mph might be the better scheme here.

  • rlb

    I have to agree with Koch Bike Lane.
    Anyone who has ever bike up 8th avenue in midtwon should be all to aware that pedestrians have no problem walking in an unbuffered bike lane on the street when the sidewalk is too crowded. How are pedestrians going to feel about walking in a protected bike lane on some of the most crowded sidewalks in the city?
    Bike lanes should not be surrounded by sidewalks.

  • Paul

    If this bike lane is used well, there won’t be a reason for peds to step into the bike lane without looking. It’s pretty damn obvious that it’s a bike lane. You wouldn’t walk into the street without looking would you?

  • Car Free Nation

    I’m surprised they were able to get a picture of the bike lane on Adams Street with no cars parked on it (in the presentation). They must have asked a few of the parked cars to move for the photo.

    I’ve never seen it clear northbound to the bridge. Usually there are 10-20 cars parked on the lane.

  • RE: Koch Bike Lane
    maybe if gates were installed on both sides of the bike lane (on the sidewalks, of course) that would force peds to enter/exit the ped plaza from the crosswalk

  • rlb

    It’s pretty damn obvious that the 9th avenue cycle track is a bikelane too, but I have had to avoid pedestrians everytime I have used it. And that’s without plazas steps away, and without the insane foot traffic of midtown.
    The level of use will make a difference, but a steady stream/wall of bikes doesn’t happen anywhere. The one bike every 10-15 seconds that pass by on the 9th avenue lane will not deter constant bike lane crossing from the hundreds of pedestrians on Broadway.

  • B-Rand

    What about buses? The lane should be for both, forget the plazas.

  • Dave

    I hate to be a doomsayer but IMHO the city is acting irresponsibly to accommodate the few cyclists who will use these lanes without first addressing the overwhelming traffic issue we have.

    Broadway traffic in this area is already bumper-to-bumper and this will make it all that much worse. Without any reduction in traffic, better accommodation for deliveries and the elimination of curbside parking this looks like a recipe for disaster. Trucks will double-park on either side of the street letting one lane through the area and cars will have to snake between them.

    Do something to restrict traffic flow before taking away traffic lanes (CP. tolls on bridges, etc. I’ve said them all before) or this will be ripped out as quickly as Koch’s bike lanes. Come on, we’re not talking lower Ninth Avenue here.

  • Mark Walker

    Dave, isn’t the DOT, in effect, restricting traffic flow by reallocating space to street users other than cars? During the Robert Moses era we learned that expanding space for cars brings more cars. Now we’ll get to see if the principle works in reverse. It’s sure worth trying. And unlike CP, reallocating street space doesn’t require approval of our useless state legislature.

  • Spud Spudly

    OMG, I agree with Mark!

    I also agree that a bike lane between the sidewalk and new plaza is problematic. Just make it one continuous sidewalk extension and put the bike lane on the traffic side if you have to have one.

    And even though I’m sure this has been thought through by greater transit minds than mine, what’s up with the intrusive left turn lanes that take away roughly half the plaza space on every other block? Ditch those two little parking spots at the end of the street between the left turn lane and the regular traffic lanes and run the left turn lane through there. Then you can make the plaza much larger.

  • After looking at it again, Why not a bus/bike shared lane to the right. Yes, that would mean removing the parking, but that would serve two purposes and eliminate the bike lane on the left.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Do something to restrict traffic flow before taking away traffic lanes.”

    Sorry, we lost that argument. There will be no attempt to reduce traffic. Instead, people will drive to Manhattan to the point where the traffic is so bad that no additional drivers can stand it. That is what traffic will be like, no matter how much space is used for motor vehicles.

    So if lanes are taken away, things will be worse briefly until enough drivers are discouraged and stop driving. Then it will the same as it is now.

    I’m paying the same property and income taxes as city residents who drive to Manhattan, and more than through-traffic. I want the share of the street I paid for. Drivers aren’t willing to pay extra, so tough.

  • Damian

    Judging from all the construction right around the Flatiron building, it looks like some big changes are coming between 26th and 22nd on Broadway. Not a minute too soon — it’s pretty forbidding to pedestrians right now.

  • From a bicycling perspective, a fenced off bicycle-only path might seem optimal, but it obviously would not be in step with the allocation of pedestrian, bicycle and motor vehicle traffic in this area. Yes, sandwiching the bike path between the sidewalk and the newly-furnished pedestrian oases will encourage pedestrians in the bike path, particulalry since such a high percentage of the pedestrians in this area are tourists. But putting up fencing to keep the pedestrians out would be antithetical to the thrust of the overall project, of which bicycling improvements are just a part. Bicylists will have to proceed slowly and cautiously through the path with lots of bell ringing. But isn’t a slow ride exactly what many bicyclists that favor separated paths are looking for? I think the trade-off is worth it as long as NYPD does not try to force bicyclists to use the path by ticketing them for riding in the roadway. (In my view, a cycle track is not the same as a bicycle lane–it is a separate roadway–and so reul requiring a bicycling to ride on bicycle lane when available and reasonably safe does not apply to force the bicyclist to use the cycle track). Those who wish to travel at 10+ MPH should be able to use the motor vehicle portion of the roadway.

    Damian’s right about the Madison Square “squaring”; it is already well underway. The trend of these two projects taken together is to narrow Broadway by one traffic lane for most of the mile between 42nd and 23rd. And Union Square forces a similar constriction of Broadway traffic. The next logical step would be to extend the cycle track/lane reduction north of 42nd (where, as Dart points out, the most hellish portion of the Broadway bike lane apart from herald Square is located). If Broadway is two lanes from, say 57th down to 14th, motorists simply won’t use it to get downtown anymore.

  • Paul

    Give it a chance, I’m sure it will work. And use a bell to warn peds that you’re coming if they’re in the way or you think they might step in front of you.

    I’m totally against putting cyclists in car traffic. Just yesterday my friend and I pulled a girl and her bike out of the way of the wheels of a moving truck that knocked her over while turning right. They were both stopped and the truck made an illegal right turn, pushed her down, and she just barely escaped being crushed. Fuck that made me so mad.

  • m to the i

    Was riding home from school last night and decided to ride down Broadway and check out the progress of new projects. The bike lane is striped and colored on Broadway, rode down it last night. It is really wide. Only a couple of pedestrians were walking in the lane. The plazas have not been constructed yet. The Madison Square lanes were coned in, still under construction, so it was a little confusing. The entire bike lane on Broadway between 34 and 25 and 23 and 17 has been widened and repaved. It was a really nice ride.

    I am still concerned about ped/bike conflicts between Times and Herald Squares. But I can’t wait to try it again and see what it’s like when everything is finished.

  • Three consecutive nights’ experience of the bike lane in the (unfinished, I admit) Broadway Boulevard:

    Night 1: I rode in the street, not the bike lane. I kept pace with and observed a woman biking in the bike lane. She was swerving every ten feet or so to avoid pedestrians, and yelling every few seconds (not angrily) to warn peds of her approach. It looked lke way too much trouble.

    Night 2: A different woman biking down the lane, doing the exact same thing as the woman on Night 1, except this one was viciously cursing out most pedestrians in her way and yelling “bike lane! bike lane, you stupid @#$%!” Again, I was in the road, not the bike lane. Her experience looked like miserable hell; in fact when we met up at a red light, I couldn’t help telling her, “I find it more peaceful here (the middle of a car lane).”

    Night 3: I decided to try the bike lane for myself. About ten pedestrians walked right out in front of me (within inches) without even looking. That doesn’t even count the dozens of them who were just treating it like a sidewalk, their backs to me, their ears plugged with music (so my voice or a bell wouldn’t help). As someone who refuses to get into angry conflicts with pedestrians whenever I can avoid it, I gave up after just three blocks and returned to the car lanes.


    I mean, this area–Times Square to Herald Square–is perhaps where pedestrians spill out into the street more than anywhere else in our city! And its sidewalks are definitely among the most pedestrian-oversaturated anywhere in NYC.

    So why on earth, in placing the bike lane, did DOT do this:

    Ped only area – bike lane – ped only area – car area


    I mean, couldn’t they have anticipated that the bike lane, however they wanted to paint it, would be completely overrun by pedestrians, if they sandwiched it between two huge ped-only areas (the sidewalk and the “ped living rooms”)?

    It’s GREAT that peds get so much more space. But why did they throw a bike lane right in the middle of a huge, wide-open ped only area?!

    And not only do Peds rightfully take advantage of that wide open space, but of course, throngs of them they also have to cross the street at every intersection!! So they crowd at the intersections just like always, of course, and the tail end of the crossing crowd COVERS THE WHOLE BIKE LANE.

    The problem right now is that most cyclists DO try to use bike lanes, and they’ll try to use this one. Unless something radically changes between this unfinished state and the finished Broadway Boulevard, this bike lane is going to invite, foster, and even CAUSE constant, massive, and hostile bike/pedestrian conflict.

    I could be wrong and I hope I turn out to be. But as it is now, the bike lane there is doomed. Look, now that the cars only have two lanes, they’re calmed enough so that cyclists can just be told to share the car space, no? (I know, I’m always after that.)

    I ride down Broadway going home every day. So I saw them building this thing. Immediately, I didn’t like the placement of the bike lane. But I held my tongue here on Streetsblog, knowing the thing wasn’t finished. I was, of course, happy that cars were losing two lanes (and, in fact, since that’s happened, I have not seen motorists suffer any more than they did before). But I have observed bike/ped conflict in that lane, and now I’ve actually ridden in it and experienced the conflict myself. Why doesn’t DOT talk to me before they do stuff!?!?


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