Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Carmaggeddon Averted as Broadway Comes to Life

with 8 comments

The closure of Broadway in New York City at Times Square and Herald Square is a lesson for us – and all cities that have yet to grasp the concept. The one that this blog has been talking about for a long time. Traffic expands – and contracts – to fill the space allotted to it. Streetfilms have produced this short video which demonstrates how it is working now there. It also seems to be working on Burrard Street Bridge for the cycle lane. But this is not just about how to move people more efficiently, it is about how to make cities work better for people.

more about “Carmaggeddon Averted as Broadway Come…“, posted with vodpod

Annoyingly vodpod picked up another video on the same page about somewhere else. I am going to post this anyway since both films are worthy of your attention. I just hope that someone responsible for the “Post to WordPress” button notices this and works hard to improve it.

Incidentally, I happened to be in Herald Square not so long ago – before this experiment started – and took this picture of the bike lane.

Lane closure Herald Square Broadway

There had already been an attempt to recover some of Broadway to improve pedestrian and bicycle movement. There is a shot in the video from almost the same point. This new facility is not about movement at all – it is about creating a space where people will want to linger – where loitering is actually encouraged. For the last century we have been obsessed with moving people along, with speeding things up. In the process we lost something precious – which the people of New York are now beginning to appreciate once again.

I wonder how long it will take us to make a move in this direction?

Written by Stephen Rees

July 27, 2009 at 8:16 am

8 Responses

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  1. February 12?

    Richard

    July 27, 2009 at 10:11 am

  2. I do not understand the question

    Stephen Rees

    July 27, 2009 at 10:16 am

  3. The Olympics. Several streets in downtown Vancouver will be pedestrian only.

    From the Greenest City Quick Start Recommendations

    http://vancouver.ca/greenestcity/PDF/greenestcity-quickstart.pdf

    Establish corridors dedicated exclusively to pedestrians and cyclists in the city core. Some of the new street arrangements put in place for the 2010 Winter Games should continue as extended trials after the Games
    have ended.

    Richard

    July 27, 2009 at 11:07 am

  4. Well it is something – but not at all what I was thinking about. “Corridors” means movement. What we need are PLACES. Somewhere to stop – not somewhere to get through. That is what Times Square and Herald Square were once and have become again – destinations not routes to somewhere else. And these have to be public places – which are free and open to everyone and allow for all kinds of activities or none. Mostly for people watching – mankind’s favourite activity.

    Stephen Rees

    July 27, 2009 at 11:44 am

  5. I suspect that is the intent as well. Without all the space required for parking and traffic lanes, there will be plenty of space for cafes, benches and just hanging out. Robson will be one of the ped streets during the Olympics. Robson Square should be a much better place to gather without the traffic cutting it in half.

    Even without “PLACES”, car free streets are much better places for people watching without all the parked and moving cars blocking people’s view of each other.

    Another advantages of corridors is that they will be more lively in the winter rain when people are more into moving than hanging out.

    Richard

    July 27, 2009 at 12:28 pm

  6. Commercial Drive has been pretty great the last three car-free sunday’s this summer. We’re doing it here. I give credit where it’s due and this Council has really done something special with Summer Spaces.

    However with that said, for temporary spaces it is up to community organizations like Car-Free Commercial Drive to bring these spaces to life. If they were permanent, like parks, we wouldn’t expect them to be hives of activity all the time in order to be considered successes.

    East Vancouverite

    July 27, 2009 at 8:06 pm

  7. […] Carmaggeddon Averted as Broadway Comes to Life [Stephen Rees's Blog] Two Videos, Two Cultures [Price Tags] Welcome to Mannahatta [The Mannahatta […]

    re:place Magazine

    July 28, 2009 at 11:24 am

  8. East Vancouverite makes a good point. My experience of car-free areas in Europe and Japan is that they have steady crowds most of the time even at midday on Mondays-Tuesdays. On weekends they even have too many people..
    see http://www.flickr.com/photos/billbliss/2098840444/ on a rainy day and on a weekend: http://www.flickr.com/photos/beberonline/72767513/
    check also http://www.flickr.com/groups/placeswocars/pool/page4/

    Red frog

    July 31, 2009 at 11:38 am


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