Tuesday’s Headlines: Times Square at 10 Edition

Times Square.
Times Square.

Today at 11 a.m., the Times Square Alliance and lots of former city officials will celebrate the great job they did 10 years ago when they pedestrianized much of Times Square. “The success of Times Square’s pedestrian plazas,” the Alliance press release reads, “has spawned dozens of similar plazas across the five boroughs.”

No, it hasn’t.

Yes, it’s fine that everyone wants to take credit for a Bloomberg-era job well done, but let’s get real here: The pedestrianization momentum has stalled under the current mayor and would-be president. Despite ample evidence that car-free zones improve quality of life, help local businesses and make neighborhoods safer, the de Blasio administration won’t discuss creating more in areas that desperately need them: Flushing, Williamsburg, DUMBO, the Village, the East Village, the West Village, Soho and virtually every neighborhood, frankly.

The mayor will have an avail about crime statistics at 2 p.m. It seems likely that some reporter will ask him about expanding on the positive lesson of Times Square. Or maybe someone will ask about police statistics showing that road fatalities are up 31.7 percent this year.

For now, though, here’s the news:

  • Council Member Carlos Menchaca is a bicycle commuter. He also made some nice spare change as a model last year. Coincidence? We don’t think so. (NY Post)
  • We were very happy to see NY1 follow our story on an Upper West Side community board committee that wants to ask the city to get rid of free parking. As Friend of Streetsblog Helen Ho would say, “Street parking is theft.
  • The Daily News reports that the new OMNY fare payment system is a success — though reporter Clayton Guse was quick to point out that the tap-to-pay system still doesn’t accommodate monthly pass-holders. Vin Barone at amNY also pointed that out.
  • Well, it looks like Gov. Cuomo won’t give us legal weed before the end of the legislative session (WSJ), but no one is talking about the real bummer: pot taxes were supposed to raise hundreds of millions for our transit system.
  • No one covers unaccompanied lentil soup on the subway like Gothamist’s Jake Offenhartz.
  • L train riders are apparently not using one of the bus routes set up to accommodate them during the nights and weekends repairs — so the MTA is going to scale it back. (amNY)
  • So amNY played this as good news for Hunts Point residents sick of all the truck traffic in their neighborhood, but it sounds to us like the same old state DOT plan that residents didn’t want (Streetsblog).
  • And, finally, Jake Dobkin of Gothamist offered a gripping first-person account of his experience on a Revel motor scooter. The piece raises many questions, including, “Why is Jake Dobkin lying to his wife?” He also issued some 20-20 foresight: “It’s a near certainty that someone is going to get in a serious collision on one of these mopeds in the very near future,” he wrote.
  • Larry Littlefield


    “Assemblyman David Gantt (D-Rochester) tells 13WHAM he was driving the car that proceeded through a stop sign and hit a van with five people inside, injuring four of them, in a crash on Central Park Thursday. Two of those injured in the crash were children, ages 13 and seven. Rochester Police will not say whether Gantt was involved in the wreck. But the assemblyman told 13WHAM he was driving, and that it was nothing more than a crash. He said he proceeded through the stop sign because he did not see the oncoming van, and that he is sorry people were hurt in the crash.”

    I don’t doubt that he is sorry. But what he never quite understood, and apparently still not now, is that motor vehicles are dangerous, and a mistake while operating one of them can lead to tragedy. And that needs to inform how they and their operators are regulated, and how the streets work. I am very aware that I don’t want to be in the position he is in, or worse, as a result of something that happens when I’m behind the wheel.

  • Jacob

    The same Gantt that perennially blocked safety cameras in NYC?


  • Larry Littlefield

    The very man, for those who weren’t reading here at the time.

  • AMH

    Ah, Central Park in Rochester. Although I would not be surprised if this had happened here. Despite politicians congratulating themselves for making Central Park “car-free” we still have to watch our backs on the Park Drive and even the pedestrian paths because of all the cops driving around like it’s their own closed course. Parks employees aren’t much better. I’m always amazed to see workers in other cities patrolling and maintaining parks on foot. Maybe one day we will have some real car-free spaces.

  • AMH

    The big story today is more rumors about Andy Byford’s imminent departure, which he keeps denying…so seems like Cuomo is still plotting to throw him out.


  • NYCyclist

    If you can trust the source, this is perfect timing:

    Times Square has become a barricaded, dug-up nightmare
    By Steve Cuozzo June 3, 2019


  • Wilfried84

    Let’s not forget that Bratton, because he, as the chief of the largest police force in the country, couldn’t handle a few desnudas, and Mayor de Blahblah for a hot second backed him. (i just looked it up, and the NYPD is nearly triple the size of number 2, Chicago; holy crap, no wonder this place feels like a police state.)

  • qrt145

    So now the only complain that Cuozzo can come up with is that construction work to make sidewalks safer is inconvenient?

    Funny how he forgot to mention that the reason for this construction work are car-wielding murderers!

  • Wilfried84

    And I often see unmarked cars, and wonder who the heck they are. Are they somehow authorized, or did some random driver make their way around a barricade to avoid traffic?

  • AMH

    Construction work to make sidewalks safer *while still allowing cars everywhere.* It would be so much safer and less dug up if the entire area were closed off to cars!


It’s de Blasio and Bratton vs. the World on Times Square Plazas

Let’s start with some basic facts: Most people like Times Square better now that it has more room for people. Gone are the days when the sidewalks were so meager that you had no choice but to walk in traffic. After Broadway went car-free through Times Square in 2009, pedestrian injuries plummeted 40 percent. Retail rents soared. And yet, going against […]

Better Rules for Plazas — It’s Not All About Times Square

The City Council heard testimony today on Intro. 1109-A, which would give DOT authority over designating and regulating pedestrian plazas across the city. DOT has carved out nearly 70 plazas since 2008, but its jurisdiction over those plazas remains ambiguous. This matters for a few reasons. The reason that gets all the attention is the made-for-tabloids storyline […]

“Vision Zero,” or Zero Vision? De Blasio Says “Jury’s Out” on Midtown Plazas

Bill de Blasio, who adopted an aggressive street safety platform during the Democratic mayoral primary, reverted back to a livable streets skeptic at last night’s mayoral debate. The mayoral frontrunner claimed “the jury’s out” on the city’s popular Midtown pedestrian plazas, which among other benefits have led to dramatic reductions in pedestrian injuries. Republican candidate Joe […]

Times Square Coalition: Keep the Plazas, Regulate Naked People

The Times Square Alliance and a coalition of electeds has a plan to address complaints about Times Square without destroying the hugely successful pedestrian plazas. The centerpiece of the proposal is to legally redefine the Broadway plazas as a public space with three regulated zones: “civic” zones for public seating areas and programmed events; “flow” zones for pedestrian throughput; […]