Who needs the space on 32nd Street more?
NYC’s Penn Station is the busiest transit hub in the country, handling more people a day than the three NYC-area airports combined. Every day, thousands upon thousands of commuters and travelers spill through its entrances. So why is the surrounding area so inhospitable to pedestrians?
The Tri-State Campaign office is mere blocks from Penn, so Campaign staffers often ponder this question as they circumnavigate vehicles in crosswalks on their way to work. With increased attention focused on Penn as the Empire State Development Corporation’s Moynihan Station environmental review moves forward, now is as good a time as ever to change this state of affairs. That’s why Tri-State is launching a campaign to win pedestrian improvements around Penn Station.
Others are concerned about this lack of regard for pedestrians, particularly Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer. Last week Stringer proposed widening sidewalks and creating bike lanes on West 33rd Street, an idea supported by the Regional Plan Association, Transportation Alternatives, and the Tri-State Campaign. Stringer and the three groups are also pushing for inclusion of pedestrian improvements in the Moynihan Station environmental review.
The prioritization of cars reaches its most absurd on 32nd Street between Seventh and Sixth Avenues. This stretch of 32nd Street is one of the heaviest traveled areas around Penn Station, since it leads directly to the Seventh Avenue entrance of Penn Station and links it to the Herald Square subway and PATH stations on Sixth Avenue. Its narrow sidewalks are made narrower by scaffolding and street vendors, and can’t handle the commuters’ parade which unfolds every weekday morning and afternoon. (Images after the cut.)
A typical morning outside of Penn Station.
The imbalance exists in both halves of the space-time continuum. On Tuesday Tri-State staffers timed the traffic lights at the intersection of 32nd Street and Seventh Avenue (at 9:15 a.m. and at 5:20 p.m.) and found that pedestrians were allotted 20 seconds to cross the street. Cars got a full minute.
Waiting to cross 7th Ave (at 32nd Street).
NYC DOT could take quick action at this trouble spot by restricting vehicular access to 32nd Street during rush hour. Public comments on ESDC’s scoping document for the Moynihan Station project are due on Monday.