Traffic to be Squeezed Off-Broadway
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has unveiled an ambitious scheme to close a section of Braodway to motor traffic. The newly-liberated stretch of asphalt will run from Times Square (42nd St) to Herald Square (36th St). This project, as well as Bloomberg's failed bid for a London-style congestion tax, cements his desire to discourage people from bringing their own cars into Manhattan.
The esplanade, which the city is calling Broadway Boulevard, will run from 42nd Street to Herald Square. Scheduled to open in mid-August, it will change that section of Broadway from a four-lane to a two-lane street.
“I’m envisioning it as a public park on the street,” said Barbara Randall, the executive director of the Fashion Center Business Improvement District, which is working with the city’s Department of Transportation to create the boulevard.
The plan also makes clear that the Bloomberg administration, after losing its bid in Albany for a congestion-pricing plan that would have fought traffic by charging drivers to enter the area of Manhattan below 59th Street, intends to push ahead with smaller-scale initiatives to wrest at least part of the street from cars and trucks.
Other recent initiatives from the Transportation Department include banning cars on Park Avenue on three Saturdays in August and exploring a bicycle-sharing program.
Meanwhile, across the pond, a busy London intersection is getting a major pedestrian-friendly makeover. Oxford Circus, where Regent Street meets Oxford Street, is getting a Tokyo-style "scramble crossing" to replace the byzantine maze of subways (underground passages) connecting the four streetcorners to the London Underground mass transit system. Previously, those traveling on foot had to descend into the tunnels and re-emerge at the other side, but it's fairly easy to get lost, especially during rush hour. Not as bad as Marble Arch, though.
"We want to make it as easy as possible for the 200 million visitors a year who come to the West End to get around on foot," said councillor Danny Chalkley, Westminster's environment and transport pointman.
"The parallels between Shibuya and the West End are stark: apart from both locations being hugely popular, they are also important fashion and entertainment areas.
"These proposals will bring a slice of Tokyo to Oxford Circus, and are part of a whole series of improvements already taking place to ensure the West End looks truly impressive in time for 2012," when London hosts the Olympic Games.
The council launched a nine-week public consultation Thursday to fine-tune the plans.
Traffic light phasing would vary during the day in a bid to keep the public and the busy Oxford Street and Regent Street thoroughfares moving.