Friday, April 23, 2010

Feet and Buses First -- Another Miracle by Macy's?!

Michael M. Grynbaum writes in The New York Times about another plan by Mayor Bloomberg and his NYC administration to ban automobiles on the block between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas, creating a pedestrian plaza bookended by Herald Square and the Empire State Building. The plan is to support certain modes of transportation (but not cars or taxis) in that area -- in particular, those that travel by foot, i.e., pedestrians, as well as those that ride the buses.

According to the plan (and article), the final design for the plaza and traffic changes is expected in fall 2011, with the street ready for use by the end of 2012. The redesign is expected to cost a minimum of $30 million, and officials said they would continue to tweak the plan based on public reaction and in-house studies.

The city's transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, who is very gutsy and innovative, said that: “It’s going to improve the mobility along the corridor.” “We expect the bus travel times to improve by up to 35 percent, which is something that up to 33,000 passengers that currently travel crosstown will appreciate.”

I have written about the Braess paradox in both the scholarly literature and in this blog and that the closure of Broadway from 42nd to 47st Street in NYC is like the reverse of the Braess Paradox (in which the addition of a new route results in all the travelers being worse off in terms of travel time).

This new proposal by the same administration shows vision and concern about traffic efficiency as well as sustainability.

I see another Miracle on 34th Street (the name also of a favorite holiday movie) taking place!