Broadway car ban meet rush hour traffic Tuesday
Chris Hrones, 32 of the Wall Street reads a book while reclined on Broadway between 46th and 47th Street in Times Square. The City is testing out a pilot program entitled "Green Light for Midtown" where vehicular traffic is prohibited from traveling up Broadway between 42nd St and 47th Street. (Photo by RJ Mickelson/amNY)
Let the honking begin.
The city's car ban on five blocks of Broadway in Times Square and two blocks in Herald Square will face its first true test Tuesday as thousands of vehicles attempt to navigate around the newly created pedestrian plazas.
Light holiday traffic flowed smoothly Monday around the closed section of Times Square between 42nd and 47th streets, a surreal vista of pedestrians lounging in lawn chairs and dancing to the rhythms of street musicians smack in the middle of Broadway.
But motorists at times struggled to clear the closed section of Herald Square, right by Macys on Broadway between 33rd and 35th streets, with drivers waiting for throngs of pedestrians to cross 35th Street before turning on to the cramped side street.
How can the traffic move, asked Balbar Sing, 50, a cab driver driving near Herald Square Monday. We need wider streets.The citys $1.5 million pilot program will last six months, and is meant to create new open space while cutting pollution and actually easing traffic. Shutting the pockets of Broadway and increasing green light timing will cut waits by 17 percent on Seventh Avenue in Times Square and 37 percent at Sixth Avenue in Herald Square, according to the Department of Transportation.
But hacks Monday said they had to sock passengers with higher bills after having to take multi-block detours around Broadway.
About 50,000 vehicles a day drive through Seventh Avenue and Broadway in Times Square, according to DOT figures. More than 350,000 people walk through the congested area daily.
The agency installed signs instructing drivers to detour onto Sixth and Seventh avenues, and stationed dozens of traffic cops along Broadway. The areas wont be totally shut. Cars on cross streets can still drive through the sectioned-off areas.
We definitely know \[today\] is the first work day, said DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow. We will be out there to see how traffic looks.
Kiosk manager Mohammad Rahman had hoped the pilot program would last just one day, not half a year.
It's not good for us, said Rahman, whose Broadway newspaper stand sits just south of 42nd Street. How can I get my deliveries?
Other business owners thought the traffic ban would drive more foot traffic their way.
I'm all for it. We need some change, said Eric Rager, the manager of a Foot Locker store in Times Square. If you are a New Yorker, what are you doing driving in Times Square anyway?
Pedestrians and bike riders reveled in the three acres of new open space Monday.
I never dreamed this would be possible, said Sam Green, 47, of the Upper East Side, pedaling his scooter down Broadway.