5th Avenue needs pedestrian lanes to accommodate Trump, says transit expert Janette Sadik-Khan

January 10, 2017

Reserving three of 5th Avenue’s five traffic lanes for pedestrians will ease the traffic paralysis that President-elect Donald Trump‘s continued residence in his 56th Street tower has caused, former NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan argues. In an op-ed for the New York Times yesterday Sadik-Khan, a principal with Bloomberg Associates and a key player in the introduction of the Times Square Pedestrian Plaza, angled 5th Avenue’s traffic problem as a bipartisan issue that requires change to get better. With the President-elect saying he plans on visiting his Manhattan home frequently even once he has moved to the White House, it is clear New York will need to adapt or risk forever needing to budget an extra three hours to get through Midtown.

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The state of chaos that has reigned over Trump Tower in recent months proves that 5th Avenue is not made to house a soon-to-be President with its current infrastructure, and the change needed to fix the situation comes in the form of less traffic lanes, according to Sadik-Khan.

As in Times Square, Sadik-Khan argues for more pedestrian space, backing up her argument by equating plazas not just with booming local business through foot traffic but also democracy itself:

A natural comparison would be with car-free Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House. Creating public plazas out of streets physically embodies democracy in cities. It gives people room to reflect on their civic institutions instead of being herded along—as they currently are around Trump Tower.

The Bloomberg-era DOT Commissioner proposes creating set times for “enhanced delivery zones” on side streets off 5th Avenue for delivery trucks and passenger drop-off zones for taxis. Commercial traffic, Sadik-Khan points out, has been banned on 5th Avenue for years.

The proposal is sure to be met with outrage from at least some city drivers for whom the Avenue is a major transit artery—not to mention it would be quite the headache for those who rely on the 38 bus lines that utilize the strip. In light of the madness that Trump’s presence has caused in front of his home, as well as the public awareness that New York was never designed to protect the leader of the free world, many may see Sadik-Khan’s argument with a more open mind.

A partial closure of Fifth Avenue’s traffic is not even the most extreme plan being floated: there have been reports of law enforcement officials considering a full shutdown of the Avenue, but only when the president-elect comes to town.

[Via New York Times]


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