Friday, April 23, 2010

More "copenhagenizing" in New York

URBAN PLANNING. When New York mayor Michael Bloomberg hired Danish “urban quality consultants” Gehl Architects three years ago he started a small revolution in the city’s streetscape.
Cars were banned from parts of Broadway and Times Square was taken over by pedestrians. The metropolis on the Hudson wanted to be more like Copenhagen, a city where bicyclists and pedestrians are given priority.
Bloomberg and the city’s Department of Transportation have listened carefully to Jan Gehl, the well known Danish urban design consultant, and his colleagues.
The pilot project on Times Square has been made permanent. The amount of bicycle lanes in New York has been doubled and the work to make the city more pleasant for its inhabitants and visitors continues.
New York Times reports that the Bloomberg administration now is ready to move ahead with radical measures on another major traffic corridor – 34th Street (above) in Midtown Manhattan. Plans call for this congested street to be cut off in the middle.
A new pedestrian plaza will be created between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas, right in front of the Empire State Building and near Macy’s department store.
Buses will be allowed through the plaza in a special bus lane. All other traffic will be stopped.
Gehl Architects are involved in urban improvement projects all over the world, from Mexico City where they are introducing bicycling to the celebrated regeneration of central Melbourne in Australia. Gehl often refer to their work as “copenhagenizing” cities.
The project on Manhattan’s 34th Street is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.