The Great Pedestrian Way: First Look at the Car-Free Broadway Plan


Here’s a first look at Herald Square with a pedestrianized Broadway, part of a plan reported by the Times, Daily News and Post this morning. Starting as soon as this spring, Broadway will turn pedestrian-only from 47th Street to 42nd Street, and on a two-block stretch on each side of 34th Street. The rest of Broadway from Columbus Circle to Madison Square will get boulevard treatment similar to the changes implemented on an eight-block stretch last summer. Auto traffic will be permitted at cross streets.

The city is calling this a trial project to be evaluated at the end of the year. DOT expects the changes to reduce crashes and injuries while allowing vehicle traffic to flow more smoothly on Sixth and Seventh Avenues. More details to come. For now, enjoy the view.

  • ian

    it’s about damn time! what a bold move for comissioner sadik-khan and the mayor!

  • vnm

    News coverage of this was horrible. To the Times, it seems “counterintuitive” that this would reduce traffic. To the News, this is a “closure” instead of an opening for more people, and an “elimination of the crossroads at the crossroads of the world.”


  • Larry Littlefield

    It’s a quibble, but I would rather close Seventh Avenue north of 45th Street than Broadway.

    That way, the vehicular traffic, coming down Broadway and then Seventh, would stay west of the pedestrian area rather than crossing it.

    And traffic coming down from the Upper West Side via Columbus Circle wouldn’t have to use a cross street to get from Broadway to Seventh Avenue. Seventh Avenue connects with Central Park rather than streets north of 59th.

  • mike

    Yeah, it’s kinda sad that the Times is 50 years behind when it comes to basic traffic engineering principles.

  • somebody

    what about the bike lane on broadway? the DOT better remember its exisitence and accomodate cyclists on 7th avenue!!! sure, many folks may use the greenway when going uptown-downtown, but broadway is a great way to head to the LES from the west side. if the bicycle lane is not adequately compensated for, this plan will lose my vote.

  • david

    Sounds like a great idea I’m so excited! I hope bike lanes are included. What about the bus lines that go down Broadway? Having a dedicated bus lane might really help speed them up but it would also detract from it being a tranquil safe haven. Thoughts?

  • I agree with Larry; we need to look at how this fits into the bike network. We’ve managed to cut down a lot on car traffic coming through Central Park, which means that Seventh Avenue from the Park to Times Square is way too wide for the number of cars that actually use it. The Central Park bike lane should be extended with a cycle track at least as far as Times Square. I think it’d be a lot easier to justify taking that car space than the lanes on Broadway.

  • (n)

    My suspicion is that the bike lane isn’t talked about, but going to be on broadway from 47th to 42nd. It just makes the political sell harder if the headline is “Cars Banned for Bike Lane”. There is a bike lane already from columbus to 47th, but then it takes a nightmarish detour to the part of seventh where that Patrick Pogan douche was immortalized. I bike home on it everyday, and it sucks.

  • Larry Littlefield

    They are clearly going with incremental changes, but if Broadway to 59th to 45th and 7th Avenue from 45th South was the one-way pair matched to 6th Avenue, then:

    1) Seventh Avenue north of 45th could be made a two-way street, with cycle tracks.

    2) Broadway from 45th to 24th Street could be made a two-way street, with cycle tracks.

    Both would become local streets, rather than arterials, due to their discontinuity.

  • The Times article said that seventh ave was going to be widened. That sounds counter intuitive to me. If you want to reduce vehicular traffic why would the give them more room. The article also spoke of wanting to speed up flow of traffic through times square. All of that sounds to be bad for pedestrians.

  • Is my fantasy inching closer to reality? I dream of a pedestrianized Broadway running from 59th Street to 14th Street, connecting the crown jewels of Central Park, Columbus Circle, Times Square, Herald Square, Madison Square, and Union Square. In my deepest dreams, Broadway becomes a car-free oasis for pedestrians and bicyclists (with a light rail line included) that runs the entire length of Manhattan from Inwood to Battery Park.

  • anonymous

    If one wants to see the benefits of turning major roads into pedestrian streets, one need look no further than Nanjing Road in Shanghai and Wangfujing Street in Beijing.

  • I was able to take a closer look at the plans and it seems that there will be a bike lane with a configuration closer to that of the 9th Avenue cycle track than of the existing Broadway Blvd configuration. The additional pedestrian space will be adjacent to the curb and there will be a buffer between bike lane and parked cars.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “If one wants to see the benefits of turning major roads into pedestrian streets.”

    How about the main shopping street of Milan?

    I understand the merchants fought pedestrianization. And if anyone tried to change it back, they’d fight that too.

  • Rhywun

    If one wants to see the benefits of turning major roads into pedestrian streets, one need look no further than Nanjing Road in Shanghai and Wangfujing Street in Beijing.

    Or the major shopping streets of every town and city in Germany.

    As for NYC, I think the streets might make better candidates for more wide-scale pedestrianization than the avenues, largely because there are fewer car crossings. For example the 42nd Street plan. In Europe these are typically pedestrian *areas*, without any car crossings. There is little chance of anything like that flying in NYC.

  • Whee! Announcements like this make me dance. 🙂

    After DOT announced 34th Street would become a pedestrian plaza in April 2008 and Broadway Boulevard was created was created in June 2008, I inferred that the larger picture was that DOT wanted to create a pedestrian-only “city center” that stretched from Times Square to The Empire State Building.

    This seems a step in that direction. You could never sell a vision like that to the masses… but doing it in steps, like this, will get people on board. Cities throughout Europe have seen the same thing happen. The first initial closures are met with screaming outcries. But after everyone sees how wonderful the new spaces are, people can’t wait for more.

    Bravo, DOT! (Gosh, did I just say that?) 🙂

  • Peter

    bike infrastructure needs to be included in mockups if it is supposed to show up in the end product.

    there are lots of good/obvious reasons why this should be so, but particularly in this case where we’re talking about closing off all car traffic to a certain street.

  • willy

    its totally about time. i’ve found myself walking out of my way to avoid this stretch of broadway at rush hour when the pedestrian traffic can be achingly slow. not to mention the pleasant scene at lunch hour and weekends

  • anonymous

    gary fisher, they’re not increasing the speed limit or anything, they’re just reducing the amount of time drivers wait at red lights by eliminating an extraneous intersection.

  • I wish they would also close broadway around Lincoln Center. It take ten minutes to get from the 1 subway stop across the crazily segmented intersection to the m66 bus stop. Luckily, the bus also has to stop so it’s there when you arrive and aren’t able to get on it because the newly redone Lincoln Center just let out a gaggle of audience members.

  • The new pedestrian-centric Herald Square is amazing! It’s nice to see kids playing, dogs being walked, people dining outside with the noise of taxis rushing past your face!

  • Beta_deaf

    super i love youuuu new york 


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