Remember back in late May 2009, when seemingly overnight the North/Southbound streets in Times Square were suddenly turned into pedestrian lounge-rooms? The streets were painted green and filled with plastic chairs and tables.
The results are in, and those newer metal chairs and tables are going to stay plus get an upgrade to permanent furniture.
It’s all part of the Green Light for Midtown project spearheaded by Mayor Bloomberg and implemented by the NYC DOT*, where the goals are to make the NYC streets safer and to reduce NYC traffic and congestion. For Times Square, DOT was looking to improve the NYC traffic flow on 6th & 7th Avenues and make Broadway safer for pedestrians and drivers. If you’ve been through that area, you’ve seen the new pedestrian spaces on Broadway from 42nd – 47th Streets, and also on 33rd – 35th Streets.
How do we know if it worked? DOT used GPS units in taxis to compare travel times in fall 2008 against fall 2009 and found that:
• Northbound travel speed — throughout West Midtown improved 17% compared with 8% in East Midtown. So that’s a 9% improvement overall.
• Southbound travel speed – 2% fall in West Midtown while East Midtown showed an increase of 3%
• Eastbound trip speed - increased by 5%
• Westbound travel speed – increased by 3%, based on a 9% increase in the affected area and a 6% increase in the control area.
• NYC Bus travel speeds — increased by 13% on 6th Avenue and fell by 2% on 7th Avenue.
Other studies and statistics show that:
• Injuries to motorists and passengers in the project area are down 63%
• Pedestrian injuries are down 35%
• 80% fewer pedestrians are walking in the roadway in Times Square
Based on these findings, Mayor Bloomberg has decided to make these changes permanent. NYC DOT will begin a capital project to design and build the plazas and corridor treatments with permanent, high quality materials.
Here’s a tidbit for your next cocktail party. NYC Taxis make up abut 45% of all vehicles in the study area.
But we delved deep into the DOT’s 45 page report and have some INSIDER TIPS for you, based on the study’s 1.13 million taxi trips in West Midtown and 990,000 taxi trips in East Midtown.
If you need to go East:
Central Park South – best time is between 4 – 7pm
57th St – face it, it’s always going to be slow
50th St – about 50% slower than before the re-routing
44th St – best before 10am
36th St – avoid 10am-12pm
Overall, it’s about 30% slower to go East during 10am-12pm
If you need to go West:
Central Park South – is now 94% slower, or expect to double your trip time
49th St – also about 40% slower
45th St – best before 10am, avoid lunchtime
How did the results compare to DOT’s prediction?
6th Avenue traffic near Macy’s was a little higher than expected
9th Avenue diverted traffic actually fell 1% instead of increasing 27%
44th & 11th Ave is a bit more congested now
6th & 7th Avenues aren’t as fast as hoped
34th Street is faster than anticipated
And the project has had additional benefits as well.
• 74% of New Yorkers surveyed by the Times Square Alliance agree that Times Square has improved dramatically over the last year.
• The number of people walking along Broadway and 7th Avenue in Times Square is up 11% and pedestrian volume is up 6% in Herald Square.
*Department of Transportation