Magazine article The New Yorker

Test Drive

Magazine article The New Yorker

Test Drive

Article excerpt

Congestion pricing or not, the Bloomberg administration is impressively committed to altering the flow of traffic through the center city. Such is its determination, in fact, that it has now reduced Broadway, the original Manhattan highway, to a series of what the Department of Transportation is calling "pedestrian living rooms." From Times Square to Herald Square, the blacktop has been decreased by a third, replaced on the eastern side with a pebbly mixture of light-colored gravel and epoxy that could pass, from the upper deck of a CitySights tour bus, for a jute rug. (Think of the inevitable flattened chewing-gum spots as red-wine stains.) Tables and chairs and umbrellas will be arranged to form makeshift cafes in the middle of the street. A green bike lane separates the domesticated zones from the curb, like a moat patrolled by speeding bicycle messengers.

"This is Broadway Boulevard," Barbara Randall, the executive director of the Fashion Center Business Improvement District, said last week, while standing in the center of what used to be, simply, Broadway, at Forty-first Street. Randall's B.I.D. is responsible for the gardening and the interior decorating along the boulevard, and she was surrounded by dozens of giant flower pots and boxes, marked "Live Plants," that had been trucked in from Long Island. "Every now and then, you get the New York Naysayer," she said. "This morning, I was walking to work and I stopped to talk to one of my guys, and a naysayer came along. He said, 'You're crazy. I can't believe you're doing this. Somebody's going to get hit by a car.' And I said, 'Well, you know, no place in New York is exempt from getting hit by a car.' So then he starts telling me, 'No, a truck's going to plow through here,' and I gave him my whole speech about how these are going to be full of dirt--very, very heavy." She gestured toward the pots, which will double as protective walls, before continuing. "And he said, 'You're an optimist.' "

Randall began walking south, past employees who were bolting blue benches to the ground within easy sniffing distance of idling-truck exhaust, and past countless unopened bags of potting soil. (One of the gardeners was less optimistic when asked about the green-painted bike lane: "They say green is the most calming color, but I don't think most people around here want to be calm. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.