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Car-Free Streets

AAA Plunges Dagger in the Heart of the New Times Square

In a stinging rebuke to New York City's street safety methods, the latest issue of Car and Travel, a.k.a. AAA New York magazine, serves up a razor-sharp critique of Broadway's new pedestrian plazas:

crazy_for_cars.jpgNewly digitized AAA mag: crazy for cars, mad about pedestrian streets.

The “test project,” now four months old, has been criticized by some
as both tacky and ill-suited to the location. While we tend to agree,
we are more concerned with serious safety issues created by mixing
cross-town traffic and pedestrians, particularly where many of them are
vacationing tourists. We also have yet to see the environmental and
congestion benefits to justify the experiment’s costs.

The pedestrian plaza concept was the brainchild of city
transportation officials intrigued with the idea of importing the
pedestrian zones common in Europe to New York City. But so far, the
project appears to be an unnatural fit for the heart of America’s
biggest city. After all, Times Square is not Rome, Paris or Barcelona,
where piazzas and squares lined with cafes and restaurants evolved
naturally in the urban landscape.

Yep, all of a sudden pedestrians are mixing with crosstown traffic. Remember back when that never happened? Me neither.

Have fun picking this apart, Streetsbloggers. I'll just go out on a limb here and wager that the editorialists at AAA, headquartered out in Nassau, don't represent the views of real New Yorkers and probably never walked around with all those "vacationing tourists" squeezed into traffic by the sidewalk crunch at the old Times Square.

After the jump, a nice rejoinder from genuine city dwellers, courtesy of City Room, about the pleasures of having places to socialize in public.

On busy evening in Times Square, at the pedestrian mall on Broadway,E. J. Bonilla and Melissa Oyola found an empty table and two chairs,content among the seas of calm and waves of chaos surrounding them.

This is date night.

“Ever since they hooked this place up, it’s like a lifesaver,” Mr.Bonilla, 21, said. “If you’re with somebody, you’re with them becauseyou like each other. You shouldn’t necessarily need something else tohelp you guys along.”

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