Major Pedestrian Improvements for Herald Square and Times Square

From Transportation Alternatives Magazine, Fall 2000

NYC PEDESTRIANS OWE A BIG THANK YOU TO THE DOT for its excellent new redesign of Herald Square and to City Planning for forthcoming pedestrian improvements in Times Square.

Relief is here for the hundreds of thousands of people suffering daily from the jam packed sidewalks and baffling traffic flows of the city’s two busiest pedestrian crossings. Along with restoring breathing room, the redesigned squares will significantly improve pedestrian safety. During the last five years 31 pedestrians were killed, and 5,000 injured in Times Square. In Herald Square 25 pedestrians were killed and another 2000 injured. For three years the DOT and City Planning worked exhaus-tively with area Business Improvement Districts (34th St. BID and Times Square BID) and the community, to ensure consensus on the designs. T.A. has been a staunch supporter of both initiatives.

While the designs could include neckdowns that would help pedestrians even more, the projects have huge improvements over the previous chaos and danger.

Herald Square

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AT THE INTERSECTION OF 6TH AVENUE AND BROADWAY, between 31st and 35th streets is Herald Square. During peak periods this crossroads carries 20,000 pedestrians an hour. Now, the DOT has installed planters that effectively widen sidewalks by 8 to 14 feet. The agency also expanded Greeley Square north across 33rd street, added two broad new crosswalks, and moved loathed pedestrian fences. The current planters and pre-cast curbs are a temporary test, and will be replaced by more permanent and attractive engineering.

Cycling Improvements

Between 34th and 35th Streets, cyclists get a broadened lane separated with yellow plastic bollards southbound on Broadway, and an eight foot wide lane northbound on 6th Ave.. The bike lanes along 6th and Broadway between 31st and 34th have been re-marked and widened from four, to six feet.

Innovations

The Herald Square project includes important new innovations by DOT, which have big implications for expanding traffic calming and improving bike lanes.

Large plastic planters have been placed in the street to mark the side of the road. This new practice is very important, because it can be used all over the city for traffic calming experiments with neckdowns, new or widened medians, and mini-traffic circles. In turn, this opens the door for a much broader use of traffic calming.

The bike lane on Broadway between 35th and 34th Streets is physically separated from the traffic lane by bright yellow poles (bollards) which prevents cars from straying into the bike lane. Variations of this new design can be tried on other lanes. Good candidates are Lafayette Street, 2nd Avenue, and Hudson Street in Manhattan, and Prospect Ave. in the Bronx.

Times Square

THREE YEARS OF PERSISTENT EFFORT BY THE DEPARTMENT OF City Planning’s pedestrian planners will pay-off this December when the sidewalks and traffic islands in Times Square are greatly widened. The sidewalk widenings, combined with numerous changes in traffic and parking regulations will give millions of pedestrians more room to travel through the Crossroads of the World (the intersections of 7th Ave. and Broadway, between 41st and 47th Streets). An item of special note, is that only buses, trucks, horse cabs, and bicycles will be allowed to turn onto Broadway between 44th and 47th Streets. The Winter issue of the T.A. Magazine will have more details.