Saturday, February 28, 2009

NYC banning traffic on Broadway

(Photos show Herald Square before and after, courtesy of www.nyc.gov)

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced this week he'll bar auto traffic from several blocks of Broadway. It's a way to try to reduce congestion in the Times Square and Herald Square areas. While it may sound like a crackpot idea, there's some counterintuitive evidence that, in other cities where streets were barred to traffic, the overall traffic did, in fact, diminish. Newsweek has a rather in-depth article on the proposal and the underlying thinking.

The New York Times web site has a kind of pro-con debate among urban observers such as architect/planner Alex Garvin and the Cato Institute's Randal O'Toole.

Conventional wisdom in the U.S. has been that pedestrian malls didn't work – cities that tried them gave them up. Even our own Rock Hill, which turned its downtown into a covered-roof shopping mall, eventually had to pop the top and revert to a more traditional downtown, complete with sky, clouds, rain and sun.

But, as the Newsweek article points out, New York is unique among U.S. cities, due to its population density, rigid street grid, high proportion of residents without cars and excellent public transit services. It's certainly an idea worth watching. That said, Charlotte doesn't have density, a grid or extensive transit, so anything learned from the NYC experiment isn't likely to be applicable here, regardless.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

So if we don't have the density, why did we spend $500,000,000 on a choo choo?

Anonymous said...

"Everything government touches turns to crap" Ringo Starr

Anonymous said...

That said, Charlotte doesn't have density, a grid or extensive transit, so anything learned from the NYC experiment isn't likely to be applicable here, regardless.

I think this may be the first time ever that Mary has admitted publicly that some transit-related thing that works in NYC, Paris, London, or Tokyo actually wouldn't work here. The gospel previously has always been that anything that works in those places will and must work here, and we must do them in order to be successful.

Is it possible that the reality of a contracting Uptown and an actual diminishing of mass transit's role here is finally starting to sink in?

Anonymous said...

Light Rail's intent is to bring people into and out of the city without cars. Our problem lies in the burbs, where all of our density lies.

This is why we spent $500,000,000 on a choo choo.

I'm tried of people whining about rail. In 30 years, you will be happy we have rail.

rick b said...

Unbelievable.

Just four comments so far on this blog about closing a major urban arterial street to vehicular traffic and two of the comments regurgitate the same ignorant and ill-informed spew against rail transit.

Read the original post again, folks. It has nothing to do with rail. Mary wrote:

"Charlotte doesn't have density, a grid or extensive transit, so anything learned from the NYC experiment isn't likely to be applicable here, regardless."

You know, the experiment with closing Broadway to vehicles? That experiment?

Like, maybe, you could compare it to the idea of closing Randolph Road to vehicles, and because we don't have the "population density, rigid street grid, high proportion of residents without cars and excellent public transit services" of NYC, you might correctly conclude that it would not be very successful?

So tell me, oh urban planning geniuses, what does this have to do with rail transit?

Anybody?

In fact, this represents even more justification for the Charlotte rail system: we will eventually have "excellent public transit services"...maybe never as excellent as New York City's, but the biggest rail system in the world still started with the first tie.

Anonymous said...

"The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false face for the urge to rule it" H.I. Mencken

Rick said...

Rick B is right, this is an experiment about doing away with the automobile and has nothing to do with rail specifically.

You know what I'd like to see along these lines? I'd like to see one of our local small towns just go ahead and ban the automobile all together in their "urban" cores. Maybe Davidson or Mineral Springs perhaps.

Both towns have strongly or radically pro-transit mayors. Maybe they could push that through. See if they will put their money where their mouth is - so to speak. If it works in the big city why not the center of small towns.

I mean, it would just be interesting to see.

Anonymous said...

We don't care how you did it in New York.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"That said, Charlotte doesn't have density, a grid or extensive transit."

Uh, if we don't have the first, why do we need the last?

Answer: WE DON'T!

James Willamor said...

"That said, Charlotte doesn't have density, a grid or extensive transit."

"Uh, if we don't have the first, why do we need the last?"

It's called "vision" and "foresight." Transit is a means of shaping growth so that it will be urban and sustainable in the future. As we transition into the post-oil era in the coming decades, only cities with good transit infrastructure will survive.