March 12, 2023
Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, Department of Transportation: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the first shared street done in New York City, which is this area. There's going to be questions always about, on we make an announcement, but the best way to start for people to see we already live through action. This area was mainly centered on cars and we've been able to plan because of the BID, Emily and Sean, the whole team at DOT, having big plan for the future of the city. And that's how we came out to build the first shared street in the City of New York. So thank you for all who are playing an important role.
My name is Ydanis Rodriguez, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation. It is an honor to be here standing together with Mayor Eric Adams, the most progressive mayor that we have seen in the City of New York. If he's measured by action or he's pointing the money and who is pushing the city to address equity in all aspects.
But we are also here with other members of the administration, Ya-Ting, who is our Chief for Public Space. And our elected officials, Congressman Nadler and advocates. Thank you for joining us. We are here today to celebrate the start or construction for the next phase of Broadway Vision, between 25 and 32nd Street. Broadway Vision is DOT project to reclaim space people along Broadway. Yes, imagine, from Union Square to Columbus Circle. Our streets are our largest network of public space and they serve all New Yorkers, but too much of this space had been dedicated to just one use, the movement and the storage of vehicles. But that's changing under Mayor Adams leadership.
We know our streets don't belong just to cars, they belong to pedestrians, to cyclists and transit users too. And on this section of Broadway, pedestrians and cyclists outnumbers cars, so we are using innovative design along the corridor to reclaim our street. New plazas, bike lanes and shared street to create world-class public spaces. This design works for everyone. More space for people, and we also design to still allow local vehicle access for deliveries, pickups and drop off on what we call shared street. And of course, all those ideas are supported by resources. As Mayor Adams also insisted the city added $400 million for DOT so that we can have all the resources that we need to do these type of projects.
This design creates more safer corridor by a slowing vehicle speed. We look forward to starting our design tomorrow. Thanks to the support of Mayor Adams, we will be building out this work with capital reconstruction of an even larger section of Broadway in the years to come.
But this agency prioritize equity, so we are not stopping at Broadway, we brought a similar design to 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens. And that project has received national praise for creating safe, welcoming public space along 1.3 miles that used to be used only for cars. So, while we look forward to our work here, we can't wait to bring this model to more neighborhood across the city. I'd like to thank all the hardworking members of the DOT that made this possible, including Sean Quinn, Emily Weidenhof, Kyle Gorman, as well as many advocates here who have fought for this project for years and the BID that have been so integral to our success. I am thrilled to be able to be part of this administration and team that is bringing this to fruition. We work 24/7 re-imagining the use of public space, [speaks in Spanish.] With that, let me give you the best mayor in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams.
Mayor Eric Adams: You said the best in the city, I hope there's not another. No, thank you so much Ydanis, really for taking the vision that you talked about while you were at the City Council. And now to see the vision actualize on our roads every day, as we clearly understand that our streets are not only for vehicles, it's about redefining our city. And right in this area we saw a horrific accident with a taxi that struck several pedestrians. And so, this is real. It's real that we utilize our street spaces in appropriate way.
Before I get on the topic of today, as I mentioned last week, we recovered  percent of our jobs that we lost pre-pandemic. And so, the city is really recovering at a healthy tick. You are seeing our various social gatherings are increasing. I hear from our restaurant owners all the time. We're seeing a real recovery in the city from Broadway to Times Square. Our tourism numbers are extremely impressive. We are doing extremely well in the city as we are on the road to recovery.
But the announcement that we heard with the Silicon Valley Bank that went under, is sending fears throughout the city. There's a real concern, particularly because in New York, we have such a substantial number of tech startups. And it is not only the new ideas that the tech startups bring, but it's also the employment, the employees, the visiting shops and restaurants and cleaners and just engaging in creating the cross pollination of how do we solve some of the major problems that cities are facing. I spoke with Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer, we are going to have a coordination with the federal government, the state, as well as here in the city to be a conduit of information so we can relieve some of the anxiety that many people are feeling right now during these uncertainties with this major banking institution for tech startups going under and we're going to be here for the employees and for the companies as well. And I'm happy we have with us our amazing congressman, Congressman Nadler, the Dean of the Congressional Delegation and we are going to be coordinating with his office as well and my other congressional leadership.
And so today, we are extremely pleased with the announcement we are having right here in Midtown. We are revitalizing the future of our streets. A lot of people have talked about this for years, ever since the Bloomberg Administration, the De Blasio Administration. We're building on the vision that my former mayors really must be acknowledged for putting place the concept and ideas of how we live in our city.
Tomorrow on Broadway, the Broadway Vision comes to life with construction work on major improvements from West 25th Street to 32nd Street. Reclaiming space for people to enjoy the greatest city in the world. You really appreciate this city when you're able to walk through it, ride through it or skateboard through it, and really engage in all that this city has to offer. Offering new pedestrian plazas, widening crosswalks, and for pedestrian safety. This work has started already and now we're moving it here to Broadway, a street that is notably a presence for New Yorkers.
We're going to be adding two-way bike lanes, expanding Citi-Bike docks as well as that in more room for outdoor dining, which we are going to make permanent with the city council. We are excited about the future of outdoor dining, something we discovered during the Covid pandemic and now we are going to make it a safe, clean place, get rid of those Covid sheds and have a real safe place where people can enjoy outdoor dining.
This is really how we reimagine our city. And under the leadership of Commissioner Rodriguez, we're going to continue to move forward. And it means more room to walk and to bike and to just enjoy this great city. And I'll say over and over again, in the finest city on the globe and any of you that's here, if you're tourists, we only have one ask of you, and that's to spend money, spend a lot of money.
And what we are going to do of this spring, we start even an even bigger capital project to make these kinds of changes, all the way from the 21st Street to 33rd Street, as the Commissioner stated. We have seen what happens when we open space to people, they enjoy the city. We saw an exciting expansion and tourists reveled at what we did on Open Streets on 5th Avenue during the holiday season. When I walked through there, seeing thousands of people enjoying the shops and enjoying the scenery and enjoying all that we have to offer during the holiday season. We going to expand that throughout the entire summer and early winter as well.
We're going to go big, just like there, we're going to be big here. We are going to build more public space in every borough, not just Manhattan, our central business districts, but we are going to expand this throughout the entire city.
The first step of our Broadway Vision plan, to reimagine Broadway from Columbus Circle to Union Square. And as part of the $375 million capital public space enhancement that I announced at the State Of The City, those were not just words on paper, those were actual projects that we are putting in place. New public spaces are critical to our city's comeback. It is really, it goes hand in hand. Safe streets, public safety is a prerequisite to our prosperity and having streets we can walk on and live on in a safe way is how we're going to continue the recovery of our city.
Last year, standing with Governor Hochul, we did the New New York plan, the report, which highlighted the importance of public space to our city. We've already delivered on a commitment that planned to appoint our Chief Public Realm Officer, Ya-Ting Liu, we're excited about what she has to offer. The LeBron James of public space. Our anchor player. So, she's going to do her thing.
And today we begin to fulfill other commitments by revitalizing this area with public space. And I want to thank Ya-Ting for hitting the ground running and helping oversee the reimagine of our city. New York City is back and we are dreaming big again because we know the possibilities when we dream big. And looking down Broadway, you see the past, present and the future. Broadway is the pulsing heart of Manhattan. Moving New Yorkers and visitors alike, empowering our economy with world-class cultures, sporting events. The improvements we make tomorrow will shape our city for generations to come.
This artist rendering is a real reflection of the excitement and energy that this is going to bring. This is a map of the area. I just want to thank all of our partners who are coming together to realize that when you open your streets, you open the opportunities of enjoying all the city has to offer. And we're going to move on. I just want to have the opportunity, not giving it to my commissioner, but I want this opportunity of just really invited a real partner, Congressman Nadler. Congressman Nadler, during the most darkest moments, I was in Washington with the congressman to help on so many levels, and time and time again, as the Dean of Delegation, he's assembled the delegation together to really come and bail our city out, from COVID, to dealing with our asylum crisis, to dealing with the issues around public safety. He has been a real partner and I cannot thank him enough. So I want to bring up to the microphone our amazing congressman, Congressman Nadler.
Congressman Jerry Nadler: Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor. It's a great pleasure to be here. And let me congratulate Mayor Adams and the administration for beginning, for reaching the stage where you can begin the project this week. Making this city and especially Broadway, that's my parochial interest, safe for pedestrians and car-free and a center for all kinds of activities is a great priority. I look forward to seeing this area to have on the characteristics that we have in the Times Square area. That has been a great success and we should expand this. This is one stage of it, it'll be expanded. Mayor Adams said, from 59th Street to, what you said, to–
Mayor Adams: To 32nd.
Congressman Nadler: ... to 32nd Street. I hope eventually it'll go all the way down to Canal Street. This is a great day for the city and I want to congratulate the administration. And one day soon, we will have car-free, more car-free areas, greater pedestrian safety and greater street activities. So I thank you.
Commissioner Rodriguez: Thank you. Thank you, congressman. Now here from James Mettham, President of Flatiron and NoMad Partnership.
James Mettham, President, Flatiron and NoMad Partnership: Thank you. Thank you. Thanks everybody. Mr. Mayor, Congressman Nadler, Mr. Commissioner and everyone else here today, thank you for joining us and welcome to NoMad. I'm James Mettham. I'm the mayor, I'm sorry, the President of the Flatiron and NoMad District. Only one mayor. Only one mayor. Unelected this one, this one's unelected. Sorry. But yes, I'm the President of the Flatiron NoMad Partnership, the neighborhood's Business Improvement District. And since the partnership's founding in 2006, we've created, maintained and activated safe, welcoming public spaces for everyone who comes to our district. And it's days like today that make our multi-year effort to expand our BID boundaries and services throughout NoMad and along this ever-evolving Broadway corridor worth it. The last three years have made New Yorkers love outdoor spaces more than ever.
Early in the pandemic, the Department of Transportation acted quickly alongside the BIDs and other community partners throughout the city to create open streets that were innovative and open restaurant programming that were vital to the city's lifeblood, which have thrived here and throughout the city. It's inspired this neighborhood's collective re-imagination of Broadway, between 25th Street and 27th Street, it's called NoMad Piazza. A vibrant community vestibule that the partnership has had the privilege of managing.
And in addition to making those blocks safer for pedestrians, NoMad Piazza has been an outdoor dining oasis thanks to our creative local restaurant tours. I see Mark Barak from [inaudible] Bianca here, we congratulate him, he's been a real leader in this. The transformation of NoMad Piazza is a hyper-local economic success story, having helped to attract and retain many businesses over the past three years. And now, it has laid the foundation for this project we're celebrating today, the next steps of Broadway Vision.
This new shared street will add more pedestrian, bicycle and dining space from here to 32nd Street, completing our Flatiron and NoMad Broadway vision corridor from 21st Street all the way to Greeley Square. That alone would make this a landmark day, but we're also here to celebrate Mayor Adams' commitment to capital reconstruction of the Flatiron plazas just south of us, Worth Square and this section of Broadway in the subsequent phases and years ahead. Alongside our city partners, BID members and the Madison Square Park Conservancy, we look forward to redesigning, reconstructing and dramatically upgrading these models, plazas, shared streets, and making them permanent world-class public spaces that New York deserves once and for all.
We're grateful to Mayor Adams for his leadership on this in convening the New New York panel that he mentioned with Governor Hochul. Their action plan, including transformative projects like this, has created the North Star for the city when it comes to reimagining our public spaces and accelerating our economic recovery. We also applaud Mayor Adams for his appointment of Ya-Ting Liu, our LeBron James of public space. She's been a terrific partner with thus far and we know she's going to be doing amazing things with us and throughout the city in the days ahead.
And also, speaking of great partners, Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, you and your tremendous public space team have been absolutely amazing to work with. And alongside the borough president, our council members, Bocher, Powers and Rivera, and Congressman Nadler, we're looking forward for more creative, great creative, safer streets and sidewalks for all New Yorkers. And last but not least before I stop, rambling here, I'd like to recognize our many neighborhood stakeholders and the supporters that have worked with the partnership and the city to make this day a reality. Particularly they are NomMad Piazza resilient restaurants, hotels, property owners and residents that have invested in Broadway and this neighborhood from the start. This soon to be better Broadway is yours. So, let's promise to bring the band back together in a couple months for a ribbon cutting. I'm going to hold everyone to that and thanks everyone and enjoy Broadway in the days ahead.
Question: Can you just walk us through exactly what... I see the map, can you walk us through what this will look like and how much, mayor, did the accident that you mentioned play into the [inaudible.]
Mayor Adams: Yep, yep. We got our DOT team here.
Emily Weidenhof, Director of Public Space, Department of Transportation: Good morning. So, the block that we're standing on today, as well as the next block will be a fully pedestrian plaza. So no vehicles on these first two blocks. The rest of the corridor, up to Harold and Greeley Square will be shared streets. It will be encouraged vehicles drive five miles an hour. We have different traffic calming elements, like chicanes, we're narrowing the intersection so pedestrians will be able to cross safely, cars will be turning slowly. And a huge dramatic change that this project is delivering, is for the first time, we have formalized two-way cycling. So this whole corridor, from Madison and Worth Square, all the way up to Harold Square will be a two-way bike boulevard for cyclists.
Question: How much did the accident that you mentioned play into wanting to do this or have an effect?
Mayor Adams: It was always a plan to continually identify plaza areas. But I think what the terrible accident did, it highlighted why we have been focusing on creating these plazas. It was a horrific incident. I recall it when I was notified by the department and it just really showed that throughout the city there are spaces we are reclaiming for pedestrians. But this was always on the plan, it was a continuation of the Bloomberg successful years, the De Blasio successful years. And we knew we should continue to build on those years.
My predecessors were amazing, they focused on this topic. And this is something that we wanted to continue and not start from the beginning, but the accident was a major, major reason that we knew that it was time to really continue to push forward on this issue.
Question: Can you respond to the news of a [inaudible] number of police officers resigning.
Mayor Adams: I'll answer that as well. All across the country, we're seeing police officers who are going through resignation. We have a law enforcement crisis in this city, in this country and it's serious. But I know the men and women of the police department because I was one of them. And it's clear that when you look at the double digit decrease in shootings, double digit decrease in homicides, you see the decrease in major felonies. Our subway system is getting safer. The customer satisfactory surveys, people are stating that they feel safer because of the men and women of the police department.
What I think we failed at, is that we weren't going out and recruiting at the capacity that we should have. And we're changing that. We're back into the streets. We're showing people the excitement of being a man or woman in the New York City Police Department. There's a large number of people that want to be police officers. And we're having retirements. But trust me when I tell you, NYPD is the finest police department on the globe and it's a privilege to serve there. And we are going to continue to recruit the best, diversify our department. Many of my emergent immigrant populations are increasing. These are exciting times. And so yes, there's a crisis of law enforcement globally, but trust me, this is the finest police department and it's a great career and we're going to continue to bring people in.
Mayor Adams: You've got to talk like a New Yorker, loud.
Question: Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn–
Mayor Adams: Staten Island, don't forget Staten Island.
Question: Staten Island, are we going to be seeing that part of projects?
Mayor Adams: Yes. Well, the commissioner made it clear, this is not a Manhattan centered administration. I'm a five borough mayor, and it's about going to those other boroughs. We have some great plans in all of those four boroughs that you just mentioned that we are going to roll out. And the commissioner and his team, they have made it clear, every community deserve good, safe streets with pedestrian plazas. And that's what our LeBron James is going to make sure happens.
Question: What about, mayor, critics who say... This is a major thoroughfare in the city and we have Madison Square Park. So those say, doing this and expanding it is really going to kind of throw wrench in the traffic path?
Mayor Adams: No. And there's a culture shift that must take place in this city. And when you look at the number of drivers, the number of pedestrians that walk clearly out numbers the number of drivers. And I am encouraging people to get out their cars. We have the best transportation system, the MTA, I'm on the train all the time. I'm encouraging people, we need to exercise, we're too stationary. Let's get on our bikes, let's walk, let's skateboard. So, I'm hoping that people realize that vehicles are not the only way to get around. Those who must use the vehicle, we're going to always be a city or a country where vehicles are going to be used, but we need to minimize them. In this city, our transportation system can take you wherever you want to go and we're doing it in a safe way.
So yes, there's going to be inconvenience for those who are used to being in the car by themselves driving along. Well, we going to excite you, get out your car, meet the diversity of the city and enjoy our public transportation system. And I think they're going to be excited about it. And once you get on the train, this is a Mikey moment. Once you try it, you will like it.