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.
New York clocks in more steps on average than any other state in the country, and that number is most definitely skewed by New York City where more residents hit the pavement than the gas pedal. But in a town that’s seemingly dominated by pedestrians, car culture maintains the right of way. According to Vision Zero, NYC’s program to reduce traffic-related fatalities, being struck by a vehicle is the leading cause of injury-related death for children under 14, and the second leading cause for seniors.
Providing more public space for pedestrians has become an increasing concern for the city over the last decade, and as such, a multitude of plans have been put forward to create sanctuaries from traffic or to reconfigure streets to keep people safe. But beyond preventing traffic accidents, by planting more trees, expanding sidewalks and bike paths, and installing seating, these urban renewal projects have also been key in promoting walking, biking, health and ultimately a more desirable and habitable New York City.