Last summer New Yorkers got a fleeting taste of what life would be like if Manhattan's streets were designed in the name of pedestrian and cyclist safety, as opposed to drivers' convenience. Now, at one Flatiron intersection, those changes have been made permanent after the Department of Transportation opened its new "Shared Streets" redesign of Broadway.

Covering multiple intersections between West 26th and 24th Streets, the new area features additional crosswalks, newly-protected bike lanes, a soon-to-be relocated CitiBike dock, rerouted Broadway traffic, and, perhaps most importantly, a 5-miles-per-hour "slow zone" for vehicles. It's the first time a New York City street has been reconfigured this way on a permanent, full-time basis.

Nearly all of the new street changes are contained between West 25th and 24th Streets along both and 5th Avenue Broadway, but it's the latter that's undergone the most drastic transformation. Southbound drivers coming from Midtown will now be greeted with large "DO NOT ENTER" signs as they approach West 25th, and will be forced to turn right toward 6th Avenue.

Previously, Broadway was open to car traffic along this stretch and included temporary parking, but now cars can only travel north from 24th and bright new signs prohibit parking from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

City officials stressed an increase in both business foot traffic and residential development as the justification for annexing more space for bikes and pedestrians. "When we met with the local community to hear their concerns, we weren't surprised to learn of the changes they wanted to improve to make this area more safer for pedestrians and cyclists," DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Luis Sanchez said Wednesday. "It's a space where motorists, pedestrians and cyclists all travel together safely, with cars traveling at a reduced speed and with pedestrians having more options to circulate in an area."

"With so few cars moving so slowly, pedestrians and cyclists can now safely take up all the space they need," DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a statement Wednesday.

According to figures released by the DOT, the single block of Broadway affected by the new Shared Street redesign is traversed by 2,700 pedestrians during peak evening hours, number that puts the ratio walkers to cars at 18:1. One of the Shared Street's most important new features is a simple crosswalk painted at 24th Street, crossing Broadway. It now allows for safe passage between a pedestrian island and nearby Madison Square Park—a route that the DOT asserts was previously putting thousands at risk daily.

"We counted hundreds of thousands of pedestrians making that move," DOT Deputy Director for New Public Space David Breen said. "It's a really useful location."

In a year marred by numerous cyclist and pedestrian deaths at the hands of motorists, Sanchez stressed the safety element of the new Shared Street repeatedly Wednesday, and claimed the DOT has started a new study of "mixing zones" where cyclists and vehicles often meet. "We are evaluating how they're working and making changes to them," Sanchez said.

Following the opening ceremony Wednesday, pedestrians and cyclists began immediately using their new routes and amenities, with cyclists smoothly traveling along the new protected lanes as they traveled south toward Union Square.

"The changes are positive," Dominique Gonzaelz, a manager at Hill Country Chicken, located at West 25th and Broadway, told Gothamist. "It's a plus for the area. Ninety-nine percent of our customers don't come in via car."