Sunday, March 01, 2009

Pedestrian Malls: Good, Clean, Green Growth

I recently learned that the mayor of New York City established a plan to make Broadway - 42nd to 47th streets and a couple of blocks at Herald Square, 33rd to 35th streets - closed to traffic as early as May of this year. Cafe tables, benches and a park-like feel aimed to benefit tourists and pedestrians currently accustomed to dodging a litany of taxi cabs and buses intends to overtake the vehicular thoroughfare.

In Salem, Massachusetts a pedestrian mall on Essex Street claimed stake over a road of traffic. A narrow cobble-stoned street amends to feet more readily than cars. The variant stores which spatter the walkway encourage shoppers to peruse them more so than encourage someone from a passing vehicle to struggle and find parking in order to visit.

Essex Street Pedestrian Mall, Salem, Massachusetts

Boston's Downtown Crossing, a former area of vehicular congestion, now grabs the attention of shoppers and commuters alike contributing to the economic vitality of the downtown area. In 1980 a partnership established to revitalize the space found closing the streets to traffic a suitable path to success.

With today's environmental and economic challenges, obtaining areas for the enjoyment of others encourages good, clean, green growth. I look forward to my next visit to New York City's Broadway without breathing in the fumes of a yellow cab and worrying about popping out into the street because of the congested sidewalks.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if you read today's Globe, but Boston is now saying that the lack of traffic has encouraged the crime rate after hours. I personally think it's the lack of open shops in the evening hours.

Rick said...

Coincidentally after writing up this post, I picked up the Sunday Globe and saw the front page article on the decision of whether or not to open Downtown Crossing to traffic again.

A Lewis said...

Wow! Is NYC really going to go through with this? That's amazing. I love walking areas in love love.

Glenn said...

The last time I was in Downtown Crossing I found it depressing. Filene's is gone, of course. So was Barnes & Noble. That whole area needs to be revitalized again. What they did in the 80s was good, but it's time for a refresh.

Esther said...

Yeah, I have to agree with Glenn. When I was in college in the late 70s and early 80s, Downtown Crossing was a lively place, with Strawberries, Barnes & Noble, Jordan Marsh, Filene's. Now, on the rare occasions when I go through there, it's depressing.

I have mixed feelings about Times Square. Broadway is a major artery, so closing off part of it may just make traffic more congested elsewhere. Plus, the traffic, being packed like sardines on the sidewalk, it's all part of the ambiance, right?

Scott Beyer said...

Building a pedestrian or transit mall is not always a good idea. To work, one must already be surrounded by a critical mass of pedestrians. But if it’s used to revitalize a declining street, it will only accelerate that street’s decline by further isolating it.

That said, the most overdue of these potential malls in America is Market Street in San Francisco. It’s the city’s most heavily trafficked one for transit, bikes and pedestrians. But it is now being congested by automobiles, which are mostly driven by people looking for parking—even though there’s none on the street. These autos should be disallowed, so that Market becomes a transit mall. To read about what the city is doing to encourage this visit: