Testimony on New York's Pedestrian Plazas

Testimony of Regional Plan Association regarding Intro 1109

New York City Council Transportation Committee

March 30, 2016

Regional Plan Association supports Intro 1109 and believes the legislation is the appropriate first step to help make pedestrian plazas citywide more successful and welcoming places. The bill gives the NYC Department of Transportation the power to designate pedestrian plazas and promulgate rules to regulate uses in plazas, and is consistent with the recommendations developed by the Times Square Task Force last fall, of which Regional Plan Association was a member.

Public plazas play a crucial role in our city. They make our city more livable, more socially integrated, and provide much-needed open space in line with the goals laid out in New York City’s sustainability plan. RPA believes public plazas will play and even more important role as our city continues to grow.

The legislation lays out sensible criteria for determining public plazas, including the “availability and need for open space in the surrounding area,” ability of a partner to maintain a plaza, and relationship to traffic, land use and public safety.  This will ensure that neighborhoods lacking in open space are prioritized for new public spaces, and once public spaces are created, they are appropriately maintained by partners. The notification requirements will help engage the community and will codify DOT’s existing public outreach process for plazas.

We look forward to working with the city as it implements the other recommendations of the Times Square Task Force to better regulate and manage these vital public spaces across the city.