When Mayor Bloomberg announced the permanent closing of Times and Herald squares to vehicle traffic this afternoon, the first statistic he cited was the decreased travel time of area taxis.
“The most reliable data shows an overall seven percent increase in vehicle speeds, an improvement few thought could be achieved in midtown traffic,” the mayor said in a statement.
“My really only criticism of this project has been that they’ve tried to articulate the benefits of it in terms of improving traffic flow,” said Mark Gorton, the obsessive founder of the The Open Planning Project, who has made it his goal to reduce the city’s emphasis on cars. “I think even today there’s a fear of really announcing any policy that directly confronts the issue that we just have too many cars in the city and that the amount of traffic is brutalizing our streets.”
“Really, every single intersection in the city needs to be redesigned,” said Mr. Gorton, who cited bus rapid transit and a bicycle network as the next goals. “I think this is just the tiniest tip of the iceberg. I mean, it’s great. Starting with Times Square is a really iconic thing to do and it gets a lot of people’s attention but my hope is that twenty years from now there’s not a street in this city that’s not significantly changed,” he said.