DOT rolls out ‘Broadway Vision’ to further pedestrianize four blocks near Union Square

Photo of Broadway at West 26th Street
Broadway at West 26th Street.

Part of the “Great White Way” may soon become the “Great Walk and Bike Way.”

Manhattan’s Broadway may soon be converted into a further pedestrianized “shared street” between 17th and 21st Streets with new plazas and improved bike lanes, according to plans from the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT).

The agency presented its plans for the “Broadway Vision” to Manhattan’s Community Board 5 on Monday, pitching to civic gurus their plan to extend the project to pedestrianize Broadway from Madison Square Park to Union Square Park similar to redesigns done between 25th and 32nd streets.

DOT aims to build a new pedestrian plaza on Broadway between 17th and 18th streets, and shared streets with sidewalk extensions and serpentine “chicane” street design intended to calm road traffic, with a 5-mile-per-hour speed limit. A two-way bike lane would also travel from 17th to 21st streets, and would continue on 17th Street itself.

“Broadway Vision has transformed Manhattan’s iconic corridor from a traffic-clogged street into a safe, relaxing public space full of pedestrians and cyclists enjoying the restaurants, small businesses, and other sites that make our city special,” DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez said in a statement.We plan to continue our nationally acclaimed work this year with a dramatic expansion of new pedestrian space and two-way bike connections — all while maintaining access for vehicles that need to make deliveries or conduct pick-ups or drop-offs.”

The redesign is just one portion of the city’s overarching Broadway Vision which aims to transform spots on The Great White Way from Union Square all the way to Columbus Circle, with pedestrians and cyclists in mind rather than cars.

At least one community member, however, though DOT’s Vision didn’t go far enough. Jim Wright argued to DOT at the Community Board meeting that the pedestrian space wasn’t contiguous, and advocated instead for a full sidewalk extension “block to block” that completely removes cars.

“I think we’re missing an opportunity here to put the bike lanes on the west side and widening the sidewalk in a continuous fashion from block to block on the east side, and truly increase the pedestrian capacity here,” said Wright. “I think that’s the ultimate goal here and I just hope that’s the direction DOT is moving in.”