Mayor Bloomberg and NYCDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced this morning that the makeover of Broadway, with pedestrian plazas replacing traffic lanes for seven blocks in Midtown, will become permanent. Backing up the decision is data showing that the change has improved pedestrian and driver safety and sped up car and bus traffic — and that New Yorkers who spend time in the area like the changes.
The extensive data that went into the decision is available in a report on NYCDOT’s website. In brief:
- Safety dramatically improved, with pedestrian injuries declining by 35% and motorist and passenger injuries dropping 63%.
- Travel speeds improved by 7% in West Midtown. Northbound car speeds jumped by 17%, while southbound speeds fell by 2%. Buses on Sixth Avenue were 13% faster, and 2% slower on Seventh Ave. However, wait time for Seventh Ave. bus passengers was cut in half, since many buses that had previously used Broadway were rerouted to Seventh Ave.
- Pedestrian traffic increased by 11% in Times Square and 6% in Herald Square.
- According to surveys done by the Times Square Alliance, majorities of NYC residents, area employees, retailers, and theatergoers said that the pedestrian plazas had improved the neighborhood.
Commissioner Sadik-Khan said that the city would hold a design competition to decide the plazas’ final form. The plazas would be refurbished in the short term and construction on the permanent design will begin in 2012. She also said that many city residents had expressed interest in expanding the plazas south. For his part, Mayor Bloomberg said that streets needed to be designed for all users.
In a statement, the Campaign said that “Mayor Bloomberg and NYCDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan’s bold experiment has been an unqualified success,” and suggested that the mayor “consider a similar approach on streets like 32nd Street near Penn Station, where pedestrians are routinely forced into the roadway.”