Realizing the worst fears of cantankerous Post columnists Steve Cuozzo and Andrea Peyser, the DOT seems to be moving toward a completely car-free stretch of Broadway in midtown. Pedestrians, cyclists, and many merchants have praised NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan for her ambitious reboot of Broadway, which has already banned motor vehicles from seven blocks of Broadway in Times Square and Herald Square, and replaced car lanes with bike lanes all the way down to Union Square. Now come hints that Sadik-Khan's Master Plan may be to banish motorists from Broadway throughout midtown.
In today's Times, unnamed officials recall a 1970s experiment that sought to ban vehicles from parts of Madison Avenue. That died on the vine, but the Times' sources say "the golden ideal...would be to ban cars altogether from the Midtown length of Broadway." One insider adds, "I think it was [the DOT's] strategy to introduce this piecemeal, see if it worked, and then go further." For her part, Sadik-Khan claims an expanded ban isn't "realistic" right now, but stopped short of ruling out such a change, telling the Times, "Behind the wheel of an automobile, behind the wheel of a bike, behind the wheel of a bus, you’ll still be able to wheel down Broadway."
Proponents claim the changes to Broadway have improved traffic flow in Manhattan because diagonal Broadway interrupts the street grid with traffic-snarling, three-way intersections. And the Times recalls that the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811, which proposed the famous grid system, called for Broadway to run north in a straight line from the Battery to 23rd Street. But a group of farmers successfully fought the plan, which would have put Broadway through their orchards. Thanks to their brave fight, New Yorkers don't have to schlep upstate to go apple picking every fall.
Critics of the DOT's new Broadway, cabbies in particular, say the changes have slowed traffic on other avenues. According to the city's data, the changes have had mixed results. "I know they’re trying to beautify the city, but it’s killing the drivers,” says Gus Salcedo, a regular car commuter from Queens. "It’s frustrating. They don’t want you to drive into the city."