Thursday, September 9, 2010

Union Square Gets Even Greener, Safer Too

Top- Broadway 9/9/10, Bottom- 17th Street 9/9/10

They may not have gotten rid of the junkies that occupy the southeast corner of the park, nor the occasionally violent students, but crossing the street on the northwest corner has gotten much safer. Traffic east on 17th from Union Square West to Park Avenue has been eliminated and is currently being replaced by planters, a bike lane, and more of that tar/beige gravel that is becoming so popular along Broadway. Now, many have mixed emotions about all the pedestrian-ification (yeah, I know that's not a real word) of Broadway, but this particular move makes plenty of sense. I am not sure how many if any pedestrians have been killed crossing that corner, but I have seen more than my share of close calls (95 injuries have been reported on Broadway between 23rd and 17th between 2004 and 2008).
Union Square is also getting greener! Just when you thought the new north plaza with 21 new and healthy Japanese Pagoda trees was nice, now more plants, shrubs, and trees are being added in dozens of planters which will now occupy the south portion of 17th Street where car roamed just days ago. It may look a little odd right now, but I am sure we will get used to it.
Broadway Union Square Pedestrian Improvements Warning-PDF (NYC DOT via Union Square Partnership)
Pedestrian Plaza Is Planned For Union Square (NY Times 4/2010)


  1. This was the best idea. It makes everyone happier!

  2. I think the Bloomberg Administration, as well as the leadership of Sadik-Khan, will be remembered for decades to come when it comes to reclaiming streets for alternative transportation (bikes and peds) and open-space. Robert Moses let some infrastructure deteriorate to the benefit of cars half a century back, and now the city is reverting back to the ideas of the pre-Moses times. I think this is very exciting.

    On the flipside - as with cars - the more room you make, the more pedestrians will fill it and then some. The city needs to start ticketing pedestrians for jay-walking and using bike lanes as their own personal express sidewalks (which is my fear with this new project). You want bikers to follow the rules? You have to give us a chance and get out of the road first. If you want to argue this check out a piece I did on this below and see for your own eyes. No wonder us bikers have a chip on our shoulders...