May/June 2000, p.8

Board 2 Strives to Subdue the Car

Manhattan's Community Board 2 covers the West and East Villages and the NoHo and SoHo districts, stretching from the Hudson River to the Bowery and from 14th Street to Canal Street. Undoubtedly, the community faces some of the worst traffic in NYC. The car-crunched neighborhood includes the pedestrian danger zone at Sheridan Square, the nightmare on Canal Street and giant illegal trucks barreling down Broome Street. Battling this crisis is CB2's Traffic Strategies Subcommittee, formed in 1994.

The subcommittee has consistently pushed a progressive agenda of traffic calming and traffic reduction. It identifies traffic and pedestrian issues, works with the community to define the problem and devise solutions, and then urges action by city and state agencies. One of its recent efforts was a well-attended forum on how community planning can help solve traffic problems. The result is an effective, all-too-rare collaborative process of decision-making aimed at improving the pedestrian environment and reducing the impact of cars. Whereas many other community boards act as a foil to community traffic and pedestrian safety concerns-either burying community traffic calming requests in mounds of paperwork and bureaucracy or opposing them outright-CB 2 has recognized that NYC is a pedestrian city, and to preserve neighborhood character means taming the car.

The committee has repeatedly pushed for traffic calming and pedestrian improvements such as extended sidewalks, high visibility crosswalks, increased pedestrian crossing time, and 'daylighting' corners. Priority locations include Mulry Square, Bleecker St. from Lafayette to the Bowery, Spring St. from Broadway to Lafayette, Mercer St. from W. 4th to Houston, Canal St. from the Bowery to Route 9A, Sheridan Square, Washington St., and in front of PS 41 on W. 11th Street. The Committee also approved the proposal to widen 8th Street sidewalks between Broadway and 6th Avenue, supported by the Village Alliance BID, Transportation Alternatives and the Department of Transportation.

CB2's efforts on behalf of traffic calming and pedestrian safety are laudable. Unfortunately, the Department of Transportation has a poor record of follow-through and implementation. Witness the decade-long struggle to improve pedestrian safety at Mulry and Sheridan Squares and the continued plague of illegal truck traffic and pedestrian carnage on Canal Street. Transportation Alternatives joins CB2 in demanding that DOT implement timely and effective solutions to the myriad traffic problems afflicting this district.

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