Despite Awful Track Record, Plaza NIMBYs Always Good for a Quote

The nightmare continues: Some day soon, people might be enjoying themselves and spending money here.

In case you missed it, the Brooklyn Paper ran a by-the-numbers NIMBY react piece on a public plaza that has been proposed for Broadway near Bedford Avenue.

Though DOT has installed dozens of successful, community-backed plazas across the city, reporter Danielle Furfaro leads her story with typical narrow-minded complaints and baseless predictions. Furfaro says the plaza will take parking in an area where “every space is prime real estate,” implying that the space in question belongs to motorists and no one else. An employee of an area business — one of the two critics cited in the piece — even claims that the plaza will cause crashes.

Thing is, Furfaro or her editors lay bare the fallacy of their own narrative with this paragraph:

The city has reclaimed street space for a handful of pedestrian plazas in Brooklyn in the past couple of years, including Albee Square in downtown, Fowler Square in Fort Greene and Pearl Street in DUMBO. Some of those plazas, such as Fowler Square, brought the ire of drivers who complained that the pedestrian area would make driving a nightmare. Now, people who frequent the west end of Broadway are making the same predictions.

The article doesn’t challenge those predictions, or report whether the other plazas have, heaven forfend, made “driving a nightmare.” The Brooklyn Paper is only interested in repeating the tired storyline.

To her credit, Furfaro at least hit up Juan Martinez at Transportation Alternatives for a bit of reality-based perspective. Still, how many successful plazas do the Brooklyn Paper and other media outlets have to see before they stop leading every story with NIMBY bellyaching?

  • Larry Littlefield

    When someone starts trying to rip the existing plazas out, they’ll lead with bellyaching about that.

  • KillMoto

    Stupid journalists are stupid.

  • Anonymous

    WNYC – Brian Lherer this morning did a section on Time Square – questioning DOT’s plans to make the plaza permanent. Lherer approached the plaza as a place that no “Real New Yorker” would ever want to go, and what should be done about that problem.  Lherer started with an attitude that the Times Square plaza was already bad.  He hates to mingle with all those tourists – there is no space to walk.  Really!
    As I recall, before DOT built the present plaza, there were almost as many tourists, and just the narrow sidewalks – there really was no room to walk.  Now, it just busy, very busy.

    Brian Lherer had Bill de Blasio on the show.  Bill’s response?  I don’t want to go there, I am a driver.  Not impressed.

    Do I go to “Times Square” as a destination? Or to the international chain stores there? Hell no. 
    But I very much do enjoy the lights, the space, the crazy mix of people, every time I come out of a Broadway show and walk through the square to the subway.  I also enjoy the extra space for walking and the much simpler – cleaner traffic crossings where I have to cross the roadway.  The old pre-plaza space was a traffic free-for-all.
    My only gripe is that no barrier bike lane was carried down from Broadway onto 7th Ave, and no return lane back to Broadway below 42nd St.  The plaza area is not a functional bicycling space from Noon to Midnight.  I think the new plan has 7th Ave lane(s), maybe.

    The Times Square plaza is the right response in the right place for the right reasons.

    The plaza at Broadway and Bedford would be right for that wide diagonal crossing too.

  • Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
    Another thing that the biased anti-car fanatics keep forgetting is that density is a direct proportion with traffic. The higher the density, the more the traffic. In other words, roads will be need to help move them around rather than less. There have been numerous studies proving this statement to be true. Then again, I won’t be surprised if Bloomberg wants this just so that he can promote congestion pricing just by creating the very congestion itself, because that’s the Bloomberg way of getting something you personally want.

  • Andrew

    Before the plaza, I found it nearly impossible to walk through Times Square. I actively avoided the area. Now, there’s plenty of room for tourists and walkers alike.

    And while Times Square was perhaps the worst location, there are still many others where tourists clog up the sidewalks and make it difficult for others to get by. We need more plazas, or at least widened sidewalks.

    Obviously the situation may vary from location to location, but in general in the Manhattan CBD and in other pedestrian-heavy parts of the city, we should be allocating at least as much space to pedestrians (and cyclists and bus riders) as we do to private automobiles. I say this not because I dislike or want to “punish” drivers – I say it simply because we only have so much space to go around, and much of it could be allocated better than it is today.


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