On Broadway

The Broadway experiment will not only remain, but will prosper.

The flow of more people walking, strolling and sitting inside the city's beating hearts of Times and Herald squares remain. Not just good, but great!

This month the New York City's Department of Transportation recommended that the trial experiment of closing portions of Broadway at Times and Herald Squares to vehicle traffic and opening them to pedestrians be made permanent.

In coming to its recommendation, the city's DOT under Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan assessed how well the experiment performed in several desired objectives.

One motivation for this project was to eliminate the diagonal though-street that complicates and slows traffic where Broadway crosses both Sixth and Seventh Avenues. The report concluded that the traffic got better in the north-south directions and little worse in the east-west directions — overall a plus but not an overwhelming one.

While the benefits to vehicular traffic were minor, those to pedestrians, to businesses and to the general atmosphere of these people centers were immense.

Sidewalk space in Times Square doubled and even tripled in spots, easing the crush of pedestrian congestion. Previously, walking through the area was unpleasant; pedestrians were unable to walk side by side with friends; others were forced to walk in the street to make any progress. For those not interested in gawking at the sights like tourists, it was impossible to walk at New York speeds.

Now the plight of pedestrians has eased. A sure sign is that walking off the curb and into the street has dropped by 80%. Crosstown crosswalks are shorter now that former street space is dedicated to walkways. The result: 29 fewer injuries in the last six months, which works out to about 600 fewer in the next ten years. No small feat.

The biggest plus: there are now places to sit and watch the City go by, either to rest a while from the rigors of touring or just take a break from the stresses of the day.

Finally, this project's success will lead to others around the City, as New Yorkers realize that catering to vehicle traffic at the expense of the rest of us is a mid-20th century approach that must now move over to the approach of making the City a more livable place for all of its residents and those that visit us.