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City Hall in Your Borough: Mayor Unveils Manhattan's Largest Shared Street, Other Major Open Space Improvements

October 25, 2021

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Two-block shared street space in Flatiron slows cars, reclaims space for pedestrians and cyclists

Six blocks now fully complete of DOT’s “Broadway Vision” to remake 12 blocks of iconic throughway

NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio and Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Hank Gutman unveiled major street improvements in the heart of Manhattan, including six blocks of Broadway to be fully pedestrianized or modified to share space with pedestrians and cyclists.

The mayor cut the ribbon on two blocks of shared street space on Broadway in Flatiron between 22nd and 23rd streets, alongside local elected officials, small businesses, and BID leadership. These two blocks create the largest shared street citywide and feature innovative new designs that will be used in future shared streets. Four additional blocks were also unveiled today along Broadway in the Garment District and Times Square, meaning six blocks total are now complete of DOT’s “Broadway Vision” to remake 12 blocks as shared streets.

“Open space knits our communities together and reduces our reliance on cars – and there’s no more powerful statement than proving it can be done in the heart of Manhattan’s most iconic street,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “These improvements will make Broadway more vibrant and accessible for everyone, not just car owners. It proves we can get more out of our streets with the right mix of hard work and creativity, and I’m excited to see these ideas implemented at more locations across the five boroughs.”

“These innovative new designs reimagine how every New Yorker interacts with our streetscape,” said DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman. “These streets are safer, more accessible, and make the experience for people – not cars – the best it can be. With the strong support of local businesses, these designs serve as a model that we look forward to implementing on key streets citywide, including some of our most successful Open Streets.”

The street improvements announced today include:

  • Plaza Block from 39th to 40th Street, fully closed off to cars. This represents the time DOT has ever fully pedestrianized a Garment District block.
  • Shared and Slow Streets from 21st Street to 23rd Street in Flatiron, 38th to 39th Streets in the Garment District and 48th Street to 50th Street in Times Square, featuring expanded pedestrian spaces, a maximum 5 MPH speed for cars and protected bikes lanes.

Shared streets feature design elements that slow cars and allow all people equal use of the street. Cars are slowed to 5MPH, but still allowed to make essential deliveries, pick ups and drop offs. At the same time, pedestrians have increased sidewalk space and can also walk in the roadway. Cyclists have a protected bike lane alongside the pedestrian and vehicle space. Finally, large pedestrian plazas allow vendors, outdoor dining, and art installations.

DOT data shows 18 times more pedestrians use Broadway between 22nd and 23rd Street than vehicles.

The streets opened provide a template for new uses of shared streets across the city. These streets prioritize space for cyclists and pedestrians using roadway and plaza space with innovations like chicane designs (a curb extension creating an S-shaped curve to slow traffic), gravel for pedestrian space, shorter pedestrian crossings, and a 5 MPH speed limit.

DOT’s Broadway Vision, from Union Square to Columbus Circle, offers a variety of design elements that can be implemented based on community and stakeholder input, including public space, bicycle lanes, greenery, shared spaces, and traffic calming elements.

The Broadway designs also preview the types of innovative street designs that DOT will propose for some of its most successful Open Streets – including those in Jackson Heights, north Brooklyn, Prospect Heights, the South Bronx and more.

“I wish I could join the New York City Department of Transportation at the ribbon cutting for Broadway Vision. This initiative will make our streets safer for New Yorkers and visitors alike in one of the most walked pedestrian corridors in the City. I commend the Mayor for his steadfast commitment to improving vehicular, pedestrian, and cyclist safety throughout the five boroughs,” said Congress Member Carolyn Maloney.

“New and innovative streetscape designs like these are about making our streets safer for cyclists, pedestrians, seniors, children, and communities. Through smarter planning we can have streets filled with New Yorkers safely enjoying public space together for years to come. I’m proud of the New York City Council’s central role in pushing a vision for open and shared streets across our City, and of the hard work done by community groups to ensure that we continue to see progress here in Manhattan," said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

“New York’s streets need to prioritize people, not cars. This innovative streetscape design the NYC Department of Transportation is implementing along Broadway is a major step to correct decades of poor planning that has compromised pedestrian and cyclist safety in favor of drivers. To complement these improvements, I look forward to congestion pricing and Albany authorizing more speed cameras and passing Sammy’s Law, our legislation to allow the DOT to lower speed limits across the city,” said Senator Brad Hoylman.

“Car-free open space enables New Yorkers to enjoy a healthier and more livable city.  More pedestrianized roadway space on Broadway will help improve the quality of life in Manhattan’s busy Flatiron District. It’s another positive step toward a future less reliant on automobiles and the traffic congestion and air pollution they cause,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried.

"I’m excited to partner in announcing six new blocks of pedestrianized streets along Broadway. The pandemic has illustrated the need for our city to reimagine our street space in a way that prioritizes pedestrians and cyclists. I commend Mayor de Blasio for his work on this, and look forward to spending time on these open and shared streets," said Council Member Keith Powers.

“The Broadway Vision effort exemplifies what is possible when we think creatively about how we can reimagine our streets to work best for all who use them, from pedestrians to cyclists to drivers,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera. “The past year and a half has changed the way New Yorkers use our streets. Programs such as this one, which leverage community input to create new and innovative designs, are an exciting promise for the future of open spaces across the Five Boroughs.”

“The Garment District is one of the most highly trafficked areas of Manhattan, and public space is critically important to the livability and appeal of the area for local businesses and residential and commercial tenants,” said Barbara A. Blair, president of the Garment District Alliance. “The Garment District Alliance’s public art installations and community programs have created a welcoming urban oasis for New Yorkers and visitors in the heart of Midtown over the years, and this expansion of pedestrian space along Broadway will allow us to grow our public programming and continue offering these enriching initiatives year-round in a park-like setting.”

“Times Square has witnessed the successes of a new vision for Broadway since it was piloted in our district in 2009 and continue to support the reimagining of this iconic street to allow for more open space for pedestrians and cyclists and to give more New Yorkers a reason to enjoy this central corridor through Manhattan,” said Tom Harris, President, Times Square Alliance.

“Broadway Vision exemplifies the kind of innovative public realm planning that is essential for vibrant neighborhoods, where pedestrians can enjoy outdoor spaces safely and businesses can thrive. We are proud to showcase the Flatiron Slow Block as one of the first Broadway Vision redesigns. Inspired by the success of Open Streets in our district, the Slow Block is our latest project to transform Broadway into a people-friendly corridor throughout Flatiron and NoMad. We commend Mayor de Blasio for his leadership, and we thank the Department of Transportation, Community Board 5, and other local stakeholders for collaborating with us,” said James Mettham, Executive Director, Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership.

“Urban Design Forum is inspired and excited to see the continuing reclamation of Broadway for the broader public. We look forward to working with our partners in city government to reimagine the streets to support cultural life, small business recovery, and low-carbon mobility in the years to come,” said Margaret Newman, FAIA, Board President, Urban Design Forum.

“Over the past year and a half, New Yorkers have relied on outdoor spaces to gather safely, and as a result, we’ve begun to rethink our busy streets. The New York League of Conservation Voters applauds the Department of Transportation and their Broadway Vision Effort for redesigning six blocks to prioritize pedestrians over cars. Initiatives like this help us create a city for people and cyclists, rather than cars and trucks. This transition will have important environmental impacts, reducing transportation emissions and improving public health,” said Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters.
“StreetsPAC strongly supports the expansion of car-free areas along Broadway. The blocks getting the shared-streets treatment bustle with pedestrian activity, and these transformations will improve safety, increase commerce, and provide space for programming or just a comfortable place to sit. We look forward to similar designs in many more places around the city, and urge Mayor de Blasio to use his last couple months in office to keep promoting this vision of a more walkable, bikeable New York,” said Eric McClure, Executive Director of StreetsPAC.
“Over the past year and a half, New Yorkers have gained a new appreciation for our public spaces as streets have begun to be given back to people,” said Anna Melendez and Katherine Nessel, members of Transportation Alternatives’ Manhattan Activist Committee and co-leaders of the #OpenBroadway campaign. “DOT’s work in redesigning these six blocks is a step in the right direction, and the next administration must build upon this momentum to create even more transformational, permanent change. We will continue to advocate for a linear park along Broadway that will best serve the massive amounts of pedestrians and cyclists that use this corridor each day.”

“We are elated to see this new vision for Broadway – which RPA has long supported – finally come to life,” said Kate Slevin, Executive Vice President, Regional Plan Association. “As outlined in our Re-envisioning the Right of Way report, reimagining our streets makes it possible to increase safety, support local businesses, and adapt to climate change – all of which is direly needed in our area.”

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