Upper West Side group wants a stretch of Broadway to go car-free

September 30, 2019

Photo by 6sqft

It’s been 10 years since Times Square went car-free along Broadway, with pedestrian plazas at Herald Square, Madison Square, Union Square North, Grand Army Plaza, and many more soon following. And now, a local Upper West Side group hopes the city will agree to do the same for the northbound stretch of Broadway from 73rd to 79th streets. As Streetsblog reported, last weekend, Streetopia Upper West Side hosted an event, “Celebrate Broadway,” where they closed this portion of the road and filled it with tables and hosted performances in hopes that the enthusiasm will lead to a permanent closure of traffic.

Broadway is Manhattan’s oldest north-south street and follows the path of the island’s original Native American footpath. Therefore, it twists and turns as it winds its way through the borough, creating many larger intersections and central “malls.” When Janette Sadik-Khan, transportation commissioner under Mayor Bloomberg, started her role in 2007, one of her main goals was to create more public plazas throughout the city. In Manhattan, many of these ended up being at intersections along Broadway.

Streetopia advocates for better transit across the Upper West Side, from crosstown protected bike lanes to rethinking free curbside parking. In the past, they have also advocated for closing off traffic on Broadway outside Lincoln Center, but their latest initiative–closing off Broadway from 73rd to 79th streets on the northbound side–may be quite simple. As Streetsblog notes, the intersection of Broadway, Amsterdam, and 72nd Street culminates in Verdi Square, a small triangular park that houses one of two entrances to the 72nd Street subway station for the 1, 2, and 3 trains. Because of this, cars can only head north on Amsterdam; to travel north on Broadway, they need to make a left at 73rd Street and then a right onto Broadway.

To make their vision a reality, Streetopia has teamed up with Community Board 7’s Broadway Task Force and, according to their website, they have asked the Department of Transportation to “create a vibrant and attractive street that safely and efficiently serves the needs of all neighborhood users, including the elderly, children, residents, tourists, restaurants, stores, and other businesses.”

In response, DOT spokesman Brian Zumhagen told Streetsblog, “We are in the very early stages and plan to meet with the CB7 Broadway Steering Committee in October to share an overview of DOT’s toolkit to enhance the public realm, to learn more from the board about issues, opportunities, and priorities at this location, and to discuss potential partners for such a project.” The DOT has conducted an analysis of

Streetopia’s Lisa Orman told 6sqft in an email that “the DOT has done an analysis of the entire Broadway corridor from 59th to 110th and also conducted surveys at our Celebrate Broadway event.” They were planning to conduct additional pedestrian surveys this week. The DOT will present its findings at a Broadway Task Force meeting on October 10th (location TBD).

[Via Streetsblog]


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