StreetsPAC Urges City Council to Pass Legislation on Pedestrian Plazas

At a hearing of the New York City Council's Committee on Transportation on Wednesday, March 30, StreetsPAC urged the Council to pass a bill introduced by Council Members Corey Johnson and Daniel Garodnick that would give the Department of Transportation the power to regulate activity in the city's pedestrian plazas.

Read our full testimony after the jump.

We're here to express StreetsPAC’s support for Intro 1109-A, but first we'd like to thank Council Members Johnson and Garodnick for their steadfast support of the Times Square pedestrian plaza.  When the plaza was under full-scale tabloid attack last year, and the Administration appeared to waver, your reasoned perspectives helped everyone come to their senses.  The same goes for Tim Tompkins and the Times Square Alliance, and we offer them our praise, as well.

That cooler heads prevailed is evidenced in Intro 1109-A, which should serve as a major step in putting the pedestrian back in pedestrian plazas.  The popularity of the city’s plazas, especially the Times Square Plaza, is undeniable; when the expanded plaza first opened in May of 2009, it filled with people within minutes, and it has made the Crossroads of the World more popular than ever.

And yet the story of Times Square of late has been focused on costumed characters and Desnudas and ticket-hawkers, rather than the hundreds of thousands of regular people, both locals and the tourists so critical to New York’s economy, who visit Times Square every day.  Well-thought-out regulation of the Times Square Plaza – which will of course have to pass Constitutional muster – will make it easier for people to pass through the area without being harassed, while still allowing those who want to take a photo with Minnie Mouse or a painted topless woman, or to buy a ticket for a tour bus, to do just that.

And having clear guidelines won’t only help in Times Square – it will help in Diversity Plaza in Queens, and Fordham Plaza in the Bronx, and Fowler Square in Brooklyn, and in popular pedestrian plazas all across New York City.

We’re discussing this proposed legislation today not because the Times Square pedestrian plaza has failed, but because it is such a tremendous success.  Its popularity is testament to what can happen when we take street space back from cars and give it back to human beings.  We urge the Committee members to support Intro 1109-A, and the full Council to vote it into law without delay.

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