Downtown Alliance Calls for a Pedestrianized Financial District

The BID wants the city to convert streets to "shared space" with a central hub for truck deliveries.

The Downtown Alliance wants to put pedestrians first on streets around the Stock Exchange. Image: Downtown Alliance
The Downtown Alliance wants to put pedestrians first on streets around the Stock Exchange. Image: Downtown Alliance

The corner of Broad Street and Wall Street has been closed to motor vehicle traffic since after 9/11, but it’s never been truly pedestrianized. Surrounding streets are a mess of security theater, cluttered with obtrusive barriers and delivery vehicles illegally blocking sidewalks and curbs. There are barely any cars in the Financial District, but you can hardly tell thanks to how the city manages the streets.

Now the Downtown Alliance wants to formalize the walking environment. In a report released yesterday, the Lower Manhattan BID proposes to eliminate the curbs on Wall Street, New Street, Broad Street, and Exchange Place in favor of “shared streets” that give precedence to pedestrians over motorists and cyclists [PDF].

On Broad Street, where security measures consist of a hodgepodge of fences and ad hoc barricades, including deadly vehicles, the report envisions a narrow passage for cars. The bulk of the space would be devoted to seating and walking.

On other streets, bollards would delineate lanes for motor vehicles.

The security checkpoint for motor vehicles at Wall Street and William Street typifies street design around the New York Stock Exchange. It's a accessibility and pedestrian flow nightmare. Photo: Downtown Alliance
The security checkpoint for motor vehicles at Wall Street and William Street is not conducive to walking, and it typifies street design around the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Downtown Alliance

At four intersections that function as gateways to the so-called Stock Exchange District — Nassau Street and Pine Street, Wall Street and Williams Street, Wall Street and Broadway, and Exchange Place and Broadway — the report proposes repurposing parking spots for pedestrian space.

Commercial deliveries and placard abusers account for much of the neighborhood’s motor vehicle traffic. It’s on NYPD to keep placard abusers and other illegally-parked vehicles out of the area. For commercial deliveries, in addition to new delivery zones on New Street, the Alliance wants to pilot an “urban delivery consolidation center,” where packages could be deposited, then distributed “via hand-truck or small vehicle,” to keep big trucks away from people.

Image: Downtown Alliance
Image: Downtown Alliance

The Alliance proposals are backed by area property owners and elected officials, including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. The report has not been endorsed by NYPD or DOT, though both agencies were consulted in developing the recommendations.

The city held a one-day “Shared Streets” event in the area in August 2016. Speaking to Streetsblog about that event, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the neighborhood’s streets already function as “shared space,” even if how they’re designed doesn’t reflect that.

It will be up to City Hall to build on the BID’s proposal.


Q&A: Trottenberg Previews Tomorrow’s “Shared Streets” Debut

Summer Streets takes a big step forward this weekend with “Shared Streets: Lower Manhattan.” From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow, DOT will open up a 60-block radius in the Financial District to pedestrians and cyclists, limiting motor vehicle access to residents, deliveries, and emergency vehicles [PDF]. The event evokes the concept of “shared space” — […]

NYC Gets Its First-Ever Physically-Separated Bike Path

The Department of Transportation revealed plans for New York City’s first-ever physically-separated bike lane, or "cycle track," at a Manhattan Community Board 4 meeting last night. The new bike path will run southbound on Ninth Avenue from W. 23rd to W. 16th Street in Manhattan. Unlike the typical Class II on-street bike lane in which […]

DOT to Propose Radical New Traffic Plan for Park Slope

Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue: a pedestrian- and bike-friendly, two-way, neighborhood Main Street. New York City’s Department of Transportation is getting set to propose a major change in the way cars and trucks flow through the avenues and streets of Park Slope, Brooklyn.Sources say that the plan will include the following: Fourth Avenue, a major six-lane […]

Indianapolis Paves the Way for Bikes and Pedestrians

Construction is underway on what may be the nation’s most advanced urban greenway system. Indianapolis, Indiana is making what could be the boldest step of any North American city towards supporting bicyclists and pedestrians. Known as an extremely auto-oriented city, most closely associated with the Indianapolis 500, this is one of the last cities we […]

Fifth Ave BID, CB6 District Manager Take Aim at Park Slope Bike Lane

Fifth Avenue in Park Slope on a weekday morning. What’s wrong with this picture? Photo: Ben Fried. Just about every New York City neighborhood has to deal with the consequences of dirt cheap on-street parking. When you practically give away spaces at rock-bottom prices, it guarantees double parking and endless cruising for spots by bargain […]