The New York Times published a profile of the new Broadway yesterday that was simultaneously beautiful and horrible. For those who missed, the new configuration of Broadway in Midtown Manhattan is the most progressive treatment of an American street since the wave of pedestrianizations that tapered off in the late 70s. But the New York Times article was strangely reactionary for a paper known for its liberal bent.
The new design is a restriping, not a reconstruction, so the width of the roadway hasn’t changed, but rather the apportionment of the lanes. Yet the Times reporter describes the new road as “a narrow passageway,” implying that the space for bikes and pedestrians aren’t a real part of the road. While the article notes that diagonal Broadway disrupts the grid system of Midtown, and gives a few quick quotes to some transportation planners who cop to the Socialist idea that it may not be a bad idea to provide some space for pedestrians, the bulk of the article provides venting space to drivers who fume about their lost lanes and dwells on the sheer strangeness of taking space from cars and giving it to bikes and pedestrians.
But the beautiful part is the graphic. Using a parcel map, a grid-based schematic of the lanes, and cross-sections of the layout in addition to photos, this graphic is a clear and appealing view of the street after restriping. The one complaint I have is that there should have been more cross-sections, to really show the amount of the street devoted to each mode. Judge for yourself: