Posted on February 13, 2010
Love the Pedestrian Mall in New York’s Times Square? Hate it? Completely indifferent to its presence? Well, whatever your feelings, it’s here to stay—at least for the foreseeable future. An eight-month trial called Greenlight closed 42nd to 47th Streets to traffic. The trial was undertaken to see if getting rid of the three-way intersection where Broadway meets Seventh Avenue would speed up traffic. Some business, drivers and even pedestrians preferred the old set-up, while many people hailed the plaza and the chance to hang out, read a book, and have lunch, especially during the warmer months. Mayor Bloomberg announced this past Thursday at a news conference that traffic in the area is down as result of the changes; in addition, he claims that traffic speed increased by approximately seven percent. (Many people disagree, and say that the function of the plaza is merely to increase tourism to the area, and that traffic flow has not been helped at all. A number of people wander over to see the set-up out of curiosity, and neighborhood restaurants have benefited by being able to send the overflow of customers to the additional outdoor seating.) Safety conditions also improved, Mayor Bloomberg added, and public response, overall, appears to be favorable; tourists, New Yorkers and businesses were all polled for their reaction. Now that the plaza is moving into more permanent residency, plans to put in new paving and redesign the space are afoot.