New MTA Grates Double as Seating, Bike Racks

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Not to steal anyone’s thunder, but the MTA has rolled out the second of three prototype grates designed to keep stormwater out of the subways while doubling as street furniture. The first design, though incorporating a bench, is more artful and less functional than the prototype shown above, which includes seating as well as bike racks. Fifteen of the bench/bike rack prototypes will be coming to Lower Manhattan, along West Broadway between Chambers and Leonard Streets, and on Varick Street between Leonard and Franklin.

Said DOT Commish Janette Sadik-Khan via an MTA press release: "The fact that this new street furniture does more than double-duty as protection from stormwater by providing seating and bike racks shows that good design can turn problems into assets."

Indeed, the MTA deserves credit for this innovative project (the grates were developed in conjunction with DOT, the Public Design Commission of the City of New York, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the Municipal Art Society). However, as Second Avenue Sagas points out, the new designs will consume already scarce sidewalk space. The ideal combo: multi-purpose grates plus wider sidewalks, especially for pedestrian-packed areas like Lower Manhattan.

Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Rob Wilson

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