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NYPD Keeps on Junking Up Midtown Streets With Fences and Barricades

3:38 PM EST on December 4, 2017

What is the point? Photo: Nicole Gelinas

While peer cities like London carve out more car-free space on their busiest streets for walking, NYPD is busy dropping metal fencing and concrete barriers all over Midtown, obstructing paths for pedestrians and cyclists.

The measures on some of Manhattan's most crowded blocks look like typical police security theater in response to the October vehicle ramming attack on the Hudson River Greenway, though NYPD has not confirmed that's the case.

At crosswalks and bike lanes, the fences and barriers take up scarce public space, hem people in, funnel them into uncomfortable pinch points, and sometimes block their path forward.

Streetsblog contacted NYPD on Friday and again this morning asking why the barriers have been installed, and for a list of locations where they'll be placed. We have yet to receive a response.

At 50th Street across Sixth Avenue, for example, a concrete Jersey barrier now covers more than half the width of the crosswalk at the curb, getting in the way of people crossing the street. The Manhattan Institute's Nicole Gelinas shared a scene from this morning:

On Fifth Avenue at 49th Street, seen at the top of this post, Gelinas photographed another barrier obstructing a crosswalk, surrounded by a jumble of metal fencing. Across the street, more fencing jutted out into the crosswalk, serving no apparent purpose:

NYPD put down similar measures in Times Square after a ramming attack there in the spring, using concrete barriers and metal fencing as a protective buffer by a pedestrian zone on Seventh Avenue. The barriers occupied a section of raised bike lane through Times Square.

Six months later, the bike lane is a mess. NYPD's security measures have for all intents and purposes obliterated a bike connection that was in the works for nearly a decade.

NYPD security measures have successfully obliterated Times Square's year-old raised bike lane. Photo: Chana Widawski
NYPD security measures have obliterated the year-old raised bike lane on Seventh Avenue through Times Square. Photo: Chana Widawski

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