One of New York City’s most iconic streets used to be heavily congested with queuing vehicles and many pedestrians forced onto narrow sidewalks, resulting in an unpleasant and unsafe working and shopping environmentvii. In May 2009, the City of New York sought to improve the pedestrian experience of the area and began the Broadway Boulevard Project, introducing pedestrian zones in a range of locations, including Times Square, Herald and Greely Squares, and at Madison Square Park. Today, Broadway has dramatically changed to become thriving with activity, with the project reclaiming streets from cars to allow for cafés, concerts, art exhibitions, and even yoga classes.viii
Despite these changes to roughly 2.3 miles of a main Manhattan thoroughfare, congestion actually decreased on most surrounding avenues. Traffic injuries were reduced by 63% and pedestrian injuries decreased by 35%. Pedestrian volumes increased by 11% in Times Square and 6% in Herald Square, with pedestrians staying longer in these locations. Bicycle volumes increased 16% on weekdays and 33% on weekendsix.
Reasons for success
The project was deemed a success due to the consideration of improvements to pedestrian and traffic safety as well as aesthetic enhancements.x According to Project for Public Spacesxi, the project’s success is also attributed to its wide scope, involving an area-wide transportation network overhaul which included adjusting turning lanes, parking regulations, and signal timing. Local businesses supported the plan throughout with none stating that the project has had any adverse impact on their business, and 20% of owners/managers thought their business had improved.
When/why a city might adopt an approach like this
Other cities might be interested in following the example of New York to reduce the impact of traffic in central areas and encourage walking as a mode of transport. The Broadway Boulevard Project proves that these two seemingly conflicting objectives can be achieved at the same time, even in car-centric cities, through the introduction of small-scale urban design interventions to improve the pedestrian experience.
C40 Good Practice Guides
C40 Good Practice Guides
C40's Good Practice Guides offer mayors and urban policymakers roadmaps for tackling climate change, reducing climate risk and encouraging sustainable urban development. With 100 case studies taken from cities of every size, geography and stage of development around the world, the Good Practice Guides provide tangible examples of climate solutions that other cities can learn from.
All references can be found in the full guide.