Midtown N.Y. Renters Walk Tall

Forget the snow: Your lawn chair-sitting days in the middle of Times Square have been extended! Mayor Bloomberg has decided to keep Times Square a pedestrian-friendly walking mall.

This is tremendously good news for mid-town residents. Will the area be seen as a more desirable rental location in Manhattan? Will nearby nabes like Hell's Kitchen benefit from the "angelic" glow of close proximity? If you already live there we recommend you stay put before rents skyrocket.

Apartment residents in the Times Square area now have more benefits: reduced traffic noise, cleaner air, and safer, even easier walks to the tremendous number of shops, restaurants, theater venues, and bars nearby.

Just eight months old, the walkable mall has been hugely popular with locals and tourists alike. However, many feared the walkable mall would revert back to heavy traffic and exhaust fumes since the dramatic change hasn't delivered on the traffic-quelling utopia Bloomberg promised.
Re-routing Times Square was supposed to alleviate congestion so that Seventh Avenue would be 17 percent faster and Sixth Avenue would be a hefty 37 percent faster. Actual numbers revealed that traffic moved 15 percent faster along Sixth Avenue and just 2 percent faster moving southbound.

Still, the pedestrian mall has been deemed a success with the people who live there.

CBS News quoted Daniel Biederman of the 34th Street Partnership as being unabashedly in favor of the changes in Herald Square.

"Make it permanent. We think this has changed the appearance of our neighborhood in a good way, more than anything the city of New York has done in the last 20 or 25 years," Biederman said.

It's not just a clear-cut issue of livability or moving cars. It is also about safety in Times Square. As Bloomberg explained a few months ago, "One of the things that has happened is pedestrian deaths have come down dramatically in this area. And I don't know how you equate a few lives with a few more seconds of inconvenience."

Watch this video by Streetsblog to see the dramatic before and after.

The mayor said he hasn't heard a single complaint to the people-focused walkway. Let's hope New York continues to set an example for the rest of the country when it comes to pedestrian- and bike-friendly policies.
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