What Will Become of Fifth Avenue?

Visitors to the iconic shopping street overwhelmingly arrive by walking, transit, or bike. Why are bike and pedestrian infrastructure improvement lagging so far behind another famous NYC street, Broadway?

2 minute read

October 4, 2023, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Street sign for Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Rawf8 / Adobe Stock

Writing in Streetsblog NYC, Barak Friedman, Paul Krikler, and Janet Liff compare the adaptations of two iconic New York City streets to 21st century conditions: “while Broadway continues to transform into a world class destination, becoming more pedestrian and bike friendly, Fifth Avenue struggles.”

While Broadway is becoming increasingly pedestrianized and bike-friendly, Fifth Avenue languishes as e-commerce and commercial real estate vacancies leave the fabled shopping street emptier and emptier. According to the authors, former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s devision to nix a ‘compelte street’ plan for Fifth Avenue in 2021 “is sabotaging business interests and hurting the larger midtown post-pandemic recovery.”

A recent survey shows that crowded sidewalks make visitors to Fifth Avenue less likely to linger and shop. The same survey reveals that “Of the 226 people surveyed on Fifth Avenue, only 3 percent of people (seven people total) reached Fifth Avenue by using a private car or ride share. Some 97 percent of people walked, used public transit, or cycled.” And “Almost 70 percent of respondents indicated that they would be “more inclined” to cycle on Fifth Avenue with the addition of a protected bike lane.”

The authors conclude that in this case, more than others, “the interests of safety activists, the interests of business stakeholders, and the greater benefit to New York City are aligned.” Improved bike and pedestrian infrastructure on Fifth Avenue would benefit visitors, businesses, and Midtown Manhattan as a whole.

Monday, October 2, 2023 in StreetsBlog NYC

Green rapid transit bus pulled into station in dedicated lane.

Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes

The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.

February 25, 2024 - Fox 59

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

View from shore of Sepulveda Basin water catchment basin with marsh plants along shore.

LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water

The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.

February 25, 2024 - Wired

Ice fishing tents surrounded by fence in Safe Outdoor Space for unhoused people in parking lot in Denver, Colorado.

An Affordable Housing Model for Indigenous Americans

Indigenous people make up a disproportionately high percentage of the unhoused population, but many programs designed to assist them don’t reach those most in need.

March 1 - High Country News

An electric bicycle is shown with the legs of a human who is riding the e-bike.

Oregon Bill Would Ban E-Bikes for Riders Under 16

State lawmakers seek to change Oregon e-bike laws following the death of a 15-year old last summer.

March 1 - Oregon Capital Chronical

Aerial view of canal cut into beach in Charlestow, Rhode Island with boats parked in sand.

Northeastern Waterways More Polluted After Wet Year

Intense rains washed more runoff into local bodies of water, while warmer temperatures contributed to the growth of an invasive bloom.

March 1 - University of Rhode Island

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.