Cities

Streetsblog asks: Where are the walkers in PlaNYC?


New York is the nation's nonpariel pedestrian megacity, but as Brad Aaron writes on Streeetsblog, of the 26 pages devoted to transportation in the plan, next to nothing describes planning for hundreds of thousands -- perhaps over a million -- new pedestrians by 2030:

While the document offers tantalizing details on planned upgrades to commuter rail, bus and ferry service, and cycling facilities, it has surprisingly little to say about the city's number one means of getting around: walking.

There is at least one notable exception: the restoration of the High Bridge, an exciting project that will link northern Manhattan and the Bronx for pedestrians and cyclists. But this is considered more of a recreational effort -- hence its placement in the chapter on open space, rather than transportation. Other pedestrian improvements outlined in PlaNYC's transpo section relate primarily to better access to bus and subway stops...Given the thoughtful, holistic scope of PlaNYC, it's difficult to fathom such omissions. The chapter on open space notes that "each of our trips begins and ends as a pedestrian." True, and on many -- if not most -- of those trips, we're pedestrians in the middle too.

From Fifth Avenue in midtown to 14th Street between Fourth and Sixth, and the mother of all pedestrian clogs, Canal Street from West Broadway all the way east through Chinatown, many Manhattan sidewalks are already approaching impassability at certain times of the day.

What are the possible remedies: Widening sidewalks on other streets to create alternate walking routes? Cutting lanes of auto traffic in favor of more pedestrian space? Subway entrances and exits positioned to put people on different streets and avenues when the exit the system?

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