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Bill Introduced to Relieve Congestion—on Sidewalks

New York City has come a long way since the Giuliani days, when sidewalk barriers were placed at intersections to facilitate turning vehicles, thus prohibiting pedestrians from crossing the street.
October 4, 2016, 8am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Andrew F. Kazmierski

A bill by city councilman Ydanis Rodriguez "is about reclaiming space for pedestrians and giving them priority over cars," reports Vincent Barone, who covers transportation for amNewYork. It would further the goal of Vision Zero to eliminate traffic deaths and injuries on city streets.

The legislation...would require the city’s Department of Transportation to study and identify the 10 locations with the highest pedestrian volume in the city and develop strategies to improve safety and traffic flow for pedestrians.

“In this city, most New Yorkers rely on public transportation — and we also walk,” said Rodriguez, chair of the Transportation Committee. “It’s important that this is a starting point to look for opportunities to make sidewalks more walkable and safer and make sure the DOT has the data to make that possible.”

A June 30 New York Times piece (posted here by Philip Rojc, contributing editor at Planetizen), described Manhattan sidewalks so crowded that pedestrians had resorted to walking in the streets, despite the danger posed by motor vehicles. 

“Immediately what comes to mind is Seventh Avenue in midtown where we see pedestrians having to walk into the street to get to major transportation hubs,” said Caroline Samponaro, deputy director of Transportation Alternatives. “This sounds like a promising start to address that.”

Support for the bill goes beyond groups that advocate for pedestrians to those who support economic development in Manhattan.

Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance and supporter of the legislation, said that from the Crossroads of the World [not to be confused with "America's first outdoor shopping mall" in Los Angeles] he’s noticed a shift in governmental approach to supporting pedestrian growth.

“In the past 10 or 15 years, we’ve seen this focus on pedestrians, which is a way in which the city is evolving positively, whether that’s on 42nd Street or Flushing Avenue.” Tompkins said.

In December 1997, the Giuliani administration undertook "an experiment to ease vehicular gridlock in midtown by blocking off pedestrian crosswalks," reported Andy Newman for The New York Times.

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Published on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 in amNew York
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