New York City has recently began to more actively shape public spaces in the city, implement bike lanes and explore alternatives for dealing with traffic issues. Various initiatives are in place for the reclamation of urban street space in an attempt to make the city more walkable, build community and increase quality of life. One pilot program called “Green Light for Midtown” focuses on improving congestion along Broadway. The project is set to begin on May 25th, 2009 and here is a rendering of what Times Square would look like if it became more pedestrian friendly:
Organizations like Transportation Alternatives are working on campaigns to promote bicycling, walking and public transport and The Trust for Public Land sponsors a yearly event called “Parking Day” where metered parking spots are transformed into mini parks for a day. (The Park(ing) Day concept was created by San Francisco art collective Rebar in 2005.)
Other reclamation projects include the creation of a 37,000 foot plaza at Madison Square and thanks to this and others initiatives, like the creation of a public square in the Meatpacking District, NYC was awarded an ITDP Sustainable Transport award in Washington D.C.
Another interesting project that is still under construction is the Highline park project. The Highline is an abandoned elevated freight railway line that was once active on Manhattan’s west side – the remaining structure will be converted into an elevated park.
For more inspiring public space work in New York City check out the Project for Public Places and the Livable Streets Initiative and also this interesting project about the representation of urban spaces.