Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday morning that the controversial pedestrian plaza in Times Square are here to stay.
The mayor said that Broadway from 47th to 42nd Streets and 33rd to 35th Streets will remain closed to traffic permanently. The change was made to increase safety, reduce pollution, and improve traffic flow at chokeholds where Broadway meets the avenues.
The decision comes after an eight-month trial called Greenlight for Manhattan, during which the city weighed the statistics against complaints from some drivers and business who liked the old traffic pattern.
Bloomberg said the city analyzed data from more than 1.1 million taxi trips in West Midtown and found overall traffic is moving about seven percent faster in Midtown as a result of the new configuration.
According to NYPD data, since the changes were implemented last Memorial Day, injuries to motorists and their passengers are down 63 percent and injuries to pedestrians are down 35 percent.
"Broadway, particularly where it crosses an avenue, can pose dangers for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians, with our sidewalks and street corners bursting at the seams," said the mayor. "But through targeted enhancements, we've overwhelmingly increased safety over this bustling thoroughfare."
"People just have more time to shop, to hang out, to walk around and to enjoy the incredible beauty of Times Square," said Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.
The plazas have proven quite popular among pedestrians, particularly during warm weather, when seats here were harder to get than at some nearby broadway hits.
A study commissioned by the Times Square Alliance found the plazas are a hit with most theatergoers, area retail managers and people who work in Times Square.
"We're going green here, you know? People have a chance to mill about, ride their bicycles, have lunch in the pedestrian mall. I think it's a great addition to New York City," said a New Yorker.
There are plans now to re-design the space with new paving and seating to make it a world-class plaza.