New York City, just like every other city in the country has seen an increase in bicyclists and pedestrians. The city of over 8 Million residents is struggling to keep up with the demand of better, friendlier pedestrian gateways because city planners several decades ago cut back the wide sidewalks in exchange for an extra travel lane. However, the lack of sidewalks and pedestrian pathways could be changing soon thanks to an innovative property owner and developer that has presented some powerful ideas to city administrators in the form of temporary sidewalk extensions. This spring, a few of the city streets will turn into pedestrian only pathways including the famed Broadway from 47th to 42nd street. Broadway will also be temporarily closed between 32nd and 36th near the world famous Macy’s department store.
The people behind this idea is Real Estate giant Vornado Realty Trust who proposed the car-free zones are only a three-month trial to last through the summer when pedestrian activity is at a natural all time high. The Department of Transportation for the city is using this as a trial in hopes to reduce crashes and injuries while allowing vehicles to travel more smoothly along several city thoroughfares. Vornado owns several premiere property holdings including the Hotel Pennsylvania, Penn Plaza and the Manhattan Mall. They will also be closing a near one block portion of 33rd directly linked to Madison Square Garden and One Penn Plaza on a permanent basis. The goal is to create a pedestrian-friendly open plaza which will reduce the number of accidents on one of New Yorks busiest segments. The plaza will feature tables for dining, a stage for musical performances, space for yoga and other outdoor programmed activities. The development company believes it will also improve the overall quality of life and increase property values.
We have already seen projects like the Indianapolis Cultural Trail and in Cincinnati Temporary Sidewalk Extensions in the forms of pop-up parks. It makes us wonder if this idea is successful and the Department of Transportation in New York City embraces the idea post trail, what other cities could pick up this idea. Vornado who is doing the experiment is paying for the planning, construction and monitoring of the extensions without any tax or cash incentives from the city. With a lot of discussion in place making and road diets, what streets would you like to see this tried on?