Sunday, March 1, 2009

It's 1am; NYC mayor proposes Pedestrian Mall

It's 1AM.

Gosh, can't wait to go to college. First day of March!

UC decisions coming out this month!


Before I sleep, I don't want to end this thread w/o a current event!

The New York Times reports Mayor Bloomberg wants to make a long stretch of Broadway Avenue, which includes Times Square, a huge pedestrian mall in order to ease congestion while trying to make NYC more of a livlier area through having more people actually walk.

Now, not having been to NYC, I don't know how to picture this. It sounds pretty exciting to me; places in Europe use pedestiran malls, but Hong Kong definitely utilizes it. If I am right, it uses it like in specific parts of the day (i.e. in the evening?).

The question is: will this really work?

Fortunately, the NYT has posted a debate discussion about this issue.  One person, Sam Stanley of the Reason Foundation, noted that the plan could work only through these factors:

"Only about 15 percent of the 200 pedestrian malls established by villages and cities across the nation have survived. Most of these malls failed because their designers didn’t understand the need for two fundamental elements: a large existing supply of pedestrians and a unique presence in the regional retail and urban landscape."

"Times Square and Herald Square are key destinations for tourists, day-trippers, workers and city residents. Given Manhattan’s extraordinarily high density and mix of land uses, a pedestrian mall along these blocks of Broadway could be viable. The key is to use the pedestrian mall to reinforce existing walking, shopping and travel patterns. Anyone around Times Square on a Friday or Saturday night probably already wonders why that area is not a pedestrian mall given the foot traffic and vibrant retail street life. The danger is to use the mall concept as a way to “re-engineer” the retail market or pedestrian travel in the city."

It's going to be a very interesting concept; in a time when urban planners need to create sustainable living (i.e. make TODs) to curb congestion in metropolitian areas and roads/freeways while trying to combat global warming, and at the same time, meet the needs of mass transporation, I don't know what is best. 

In terms of improving mass transportation, I feel the goal is much more challenging because the United States is different from Europe and Asia. The latter two have much more denser cities, making mass transporation improvements necessary and realistic. The U.S. has a lot of suburbs, and improving where, lets say, buses go or subways stations go, seems impossible, given how a suburb is configured and how bus routes are organized. Improving mass transportation could work in existing cities. Therefore, in the suburbs, the US would probably be practical in improving energy efficiency if it wants to combat global warming by focusing on flex-fuel veichles rather than mass transporation.

However, pedestrian malls sounds like a really cool idea. Could make cities more exciting and attractive to people, and create potential TODs. Makes me want to read:  The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. The book had a lot of suggestions on how to improve American urban areas, like making skyscrapersbuildings different sizes (woa! Tokyo is a good example of that).

Wow, I went off topic.  

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