All the local papers report that Bloomberg wants to close Broadway to motor vehicle traffic between 42nd and 47th streets and 32nd and 35th streets. The change is actually expected to make traffic go faster, as the diagonal Broadway currently causes jam-ups as it crosses other avenues at Times and Herald Squares.
The new pedestrian zones should be pleasant enough, at least until the New Depression creates an army of bums to blight them. But to be honest, from the DOT rendering at streetsblog, the proposed car-free Broadway seems kind of dull. Getting rid of cars makes it quieter and cleaner, but it’s still just a big strip of asphalt.
So here are three ideas to improve the new foot-friendly Broadway:
1.) Pedestrian Bridges. Having to cross the streets that still have traffic will spoil the groovy green vibe. Build walkways that slope over Sixth and Seventh Avenues, and foot and motor vehicle traffic won’t get in each other’s way.
2.) Passing lanes. Tourists, unused to our pace of life, will be using the new pedestrian malls at a fraction of the speed of the average New Yorker. To accommodate the variance, there should be a clearly marked passing lane in each direction on the right, and citizens using them should be encouraged to carry air horns.
3.) Sidewalk barkers. We can stimulate the local economy and add a nostalgic touch of old New York street life by subsidizing Broadway businesses along the mall route to hire barkers. People could be given decent wages to stand outside of Sephora, for example, and spritz passers-by with Shalimar and Polo, and outside Starbucks with taster-cups of Frappuccino, while in front of Sunglass Hut the “shades man” will fill the summer air with cries of “Ray-ban! Pra-da! Dol-ce and Ga-ban-na!” Within the year these lovable street characters will be turning up as comic relief in romantic comedies and sitcoms, and have their own Flickr keyword.
Any other ideas?