Stretch of 5th Avenue to become permanent pedestrian-friendly zone with mass transit, bike lanes

ByKatherine Lavacca WABC logo
Monday, December 19, 2022
First look at a pedestrian-friendly 5th Avenue
The proposal draws on years of studying the critical corridor from Bryant Park at 42nd Street to Central Park at 59th Street.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New Yorkers could soon get a lot more pedestrian-friendly green space with a new proposal for part of an iconic avenue in the heart of Manhattan.

Mayor Eric Adams launched a major new vision to reimagine a stretch of 5th Avenue as a safer, pedestrian-centered area that also prioritizes mass transit and cyclists.

The proposal draws on years of studying the critical corridor from Bryant Park at 42nd Street to Central Park at 59th Street.

"Fifth Avenue is an iconic corridor and an engine of our Midtown economy. But it is also an unmissable opportunity to show the city and the country how world-class public space can help create vibrant central business districts," said Mayor Adams. "New York isn't coming back, New York is back. But New Yorkers don't sit on our hands - we will continue to bring everyone to the table, come up with innovative ideas together, and make our city safer, fairer, and more prosperous."

The proposal includes wider sidewalks, more green spaces, and less cars. Roadways would be reserved for mass transit and ridesharing services with a special lane for cyclists.

It comes as a part of the 'New New York' action plan set out by Mayor Adams and New York Governor Kathy Hochul that aims to create more vibrant 24/7 business destinations to help the city's economy recover while providing more spaces for residents and tourists to enjoy.

A recent holiday season Open Streets plan temporarily turned a section of 5th Avenue around Rockefeller Center into a pedestrian-only zone.

"There's no need to drive in New York for the holidays," one pedestrian said. "It's busy enough as it is."

But commuters who opt to drive into the five boroughs were less than pleased with the temporary closures.

"You are going to make more traffic, and you have people who can't drive as it is," said Lynn Schoen from Staten Island.

The number of visitors using the area during the Open Street days reflected the Department of Transportation's findings when they studied five other Open Streets around the city.

The DOT's study showed businesses along the open streets saw an increase in revenue and businesses along the pedestrian-friendly spaces were more likely to stay in business. Areas also saw an increase in new businesses opening near the open streets, according to the study.

Officials say the city will begin working with a design firm next year to begin drawing up plans for the 5th Avenue Open Street with construction expected to take about two years.

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