Summer 2001, p.9

Worth the Wait
Big Manhattan Pedestrian Projects at Times and Mulry Squares Near Completion After 6 Years

The width of the existing sidewalk (light color) combined with the newly laid asphalt (dark color) makes for wider sidewalks in Times Square.Thanks to the Departments of Transportation and City Planning, two of the city's most confusing and challenging intersections for pedestrians are being redesigned with wider sidewalks, new parking regulations, and more rational traffic flows. In both Times and Mulry squares, efforts involve straightening out the snarl that occurs where an avenue crosses the street grid at an angle. The city has targeted the "Squares" because they are confusing for everyone passing through and cause large numbers of pedestrian and bicycle crashes.

After six years of dogged community and governmental outreach and coordination, the two city agencies are providing beleaguered pedestrians with a little more breathing room. At Times Square, an average of 150,000 pedestrians a day travel through the long intersection where Broadway crosses Seventh Ave. between 47th St. and 42nd St. This area now has temporary curbs, asphalt fill, and flower planters which widen sidewalks. Some of the widenings extend as much as eighteen feet in the existing roadway. As encouraging as the Times Square improvements are, they are watered down versions of a Department of City Planning design that included much wider sidewalks and sidewalk extensions (neckdowns) at corners. The rest of the sidewalk widening will be constructed with permanent materials and drainage (and T.A. hopes an even more pedestrian friendly design) sometime in the next five years.

New bollards and curb extensions in Mulry Square gives cyclists and pedestrians a little more breathing room.Finally, New York City pedestrians can see the improvements in Mulry Square. Six years ago, the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) saw a chance to use a water main project to transform the chaos at the intersection of Greenwich Ave., 7th Ave. and 11th St., into a more rational intersection. PPS built popular consensus at public meetings and championed pushing out the sidewalks and filling in painted traffic islands. Like in Times Square, the result is a big improvement. Unfortunately, some corners, like the northwest corner of 11th St. and Greenwich Ave. remain rounded thereby accommodating quick turns by cars and trucks. Also some key curb extensions are missing. All this said, T.A. welcomes the city's interest in making Times and Mulry squares better places for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Read the latest news on this subject.

Lincoln and Union Around the Corner?
DOT appears ready to fast track pedestrian improvements at Lincoln Square (Broadway and 66th St.). Also, discussions are underway between T.A., civic groups, business owners and DOT to make Union Square West a 'quiet' or 'calm' street using a variety of traffic calming techniques. Stay tuned for more on these developments and on 8th St. sidewalk widening.