It’s Opening Day for the Newest Stretch of Broadway’s Green Ribbon

Officials from NYU, Community Board 5, the Union Square Partnership and the Flatiron __ Join DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan to cut the ribbon on Union Square improvements.
Officials from NYU, Community Board 5, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership, the Union Square Partnership and the Greenmarket joined DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan to cut the ribbon on Union Square improvements. Photo: Noah Kazis

One of Manhattan’s premier public spaces is now safer, roomier, and livelier. DOT officially opened its improvements to the Union Square area today, including new pedestrian plazas and a continuation of the Broadway bike lane into a contraflow lane on the north side of the square.

Several pieces of the re-design were already in heavy use today. Greenmarket trucks were in an orderly new alignment, opening up more sidewalk space for crowds of shoppers. Cyclists were riding safely down Broadway and turning left onto 17th Street into a spacious, protected lane. And scores of New Yorkers sat, ate, read, and chatted at the tables and chairs — increasingly-iconic markers of the city’s public space improvements — installed at the northwest corner of Union Square.

The new treatment should help make the area far safer for the more than 200,000 pedestrians who visit Union Square on peak days. Between 2004 and 2008, 95 pedestrians were struck by drivers on the stretch of Broadway below 23rd that was redesigned. The traffic-calmed street should be far safer. “We don’t think that New Yorkers should have to second guess their safety when they cross the street,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

Also praising the new public space were Vikki Barbero, the chair of Community Board 5, Jennifer Falk, the executive director of the Union Square Partnership, Marcel Van Ooyen, who runs the greenmarket, Lynne Brown, a senior vice president at NYU, and Jennifer Brown, the executive director of the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership.

Brown noted the “thriving new businesses opening adjacent to the plazas” that opened two years ago near Madison Square, and Van Ooyen made a surprise pledge to supply plants to decorate the new plazas. Sadik-Khan noted that in the week since 17th Street has been converted from two-way to one-way traffic flow, the department hasn’t heard a single complaint.

DOT made the case for this re-design in part by noting that previous traffic calming efforts further north on Broadway had reduced congestion and left excess capacity on the road, leading to dangerous speeding. Interestingly, Sadik-Khan said she didn’t expect this to be true of Broadway below 14th Street.

More pictures of the new space after the jump:

Just north of Union Square on 17th Street is a new protected contraflow bike lane and pedestrian lane. Greenmarket trucks are parked immediately curbside. Photo: Noah Kazis
Just north of Union Square on 17th Street is a new protected contraflow bike lane and pedestrian lane. Greenmarket trucks are parked immediately curbside. There is now only one vehicle lane on 17th Street. Photo: Noah Kazis

Along Union Square East, the bike lane continues down to 15th Street, though without physical separation. Photo: Noah Kazis.
Along Union Square East, the bike lane continues down to 15th Street, though without physical separation. Photo: Noah Kazis

It was hard to find an open seat at the corner of 17th and Broadway, even before the height of the lunch rush. Photo: Noah Kazis
It was hard to find an open table at the corner of 17th and Broadway, even before the height of the lunch rush. Photo: Noah Kazis

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Manhattan CB 5 Listens to Reason, Endorses Union Square Plan

|
Pedestrian plazas and bike lanes should calm traffic and tame the dangerous northwest corner of Union Square. Image: NYCDOT After some vocal complaints spurred compromises to NYCDOT’s ambitious original proposal to redesign the streets near Union Square, Manhattan Community Board 5 held strong last night, voting 24-1-1 to move forward with the fundamental safety features […]

DOT Unveils Union Square Upgrades to Manhattan CB 5

|
NYCDOT’s plans for Union Square would add pedestrian plazas and better bike facilities on Broadway and 17th Street. Image: NYCDOT. For a larger version, click here. Last night NYCDOT showed plans for a package of safety upgrades and public space improvements for Union Square [PDF] to Manhattan Community Board 5’s transportation committee. Under the plan, […]

Tonight: DOT to Reveal Plans for a Safer Union Square

|
Image via NY1 Safer street conditions and more space for pedestrians and cyclists could soon be coming to Union Square under a plan to be unveiled by DOT today. We haven’t gotten our hands on the drawings yet, but media reports say that by Labor Day, East 17th Street between Broadway and Park Avenue South, […]

DOT Compromises, to a Point, on Union Square Plan

|
Though Broadway will remain a through street, NYCDOT is still building bike lanes and pedestrian plazas at Union Square. Image: NYCDOT. It took a few tries, but the Department of Transportation finally won the support of Manhattan Community Board 5’s Transportation Committee for its Union Square bike-ped plan last night. While a few safety improvements […]