• Jul 11th 2007 at 11:02AM
  • 28

Anyone who's ever driven into or through Manhattan knows what a nightmarish experience it can be, with gridlock congestion and a lack of available parking spaces. Jim Gehr wants to make it even tougher in the hope of drastically reducing traffic altogether by further reducing parking, shutting down the biggest intersection, and increasing green space.

Gehr is the urban planning consultant whose plans have already been famously (or infamously, depending on your perspective) imposed in London, as well as Copenhagen, and he's proposed similar policies for Stockholm, Oslo, Edinburgh, Cape Town, Zurich and Melbourne. His plans for Manhattan would include shutting down Times Square to almost all traffic, while eliminating parking on some avenues in favor of wider sidewalks to accommodate park benches and sidewalk cafes. The result would be a more pedestrian, cyclist and public transit-oriented Manhattan.

While some elements in the city are opposed to the idea, he appears to have the ear of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the municipal transportation department wants to hire him as a consultant, and several prominent civic and commercial organizations have his support, as well. If Gehr gets his way, Project Gotham Racing might be the closest we'll ever get to driving Manhattan's streets ever again.

[Source: NY Daily News via Kicking Tires]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      They should fill the rivers around the island and build parking spaces.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Just as NYC residents shouldn't use their experience to dictate what we 'non urban' types should or shouldn't do or think, I'll accept what the local VOTERS think would be the best for NYC.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Yeah cause prohibiting cars worked really well on State St. in Chicago. SF ditched a similar plan with Market St. after learning about it.

      from wiki


      State Street became a shopping destination during the 1900s and is referred to in the song "Chicago", sung by Frank Sinatra where Frank refers it to "State Street, that Great Street." In 1979, Mayor Jane Byrne converted the downtown portion into a pedestrian mall with only bus traffic allowed. Mayor Richard M. Daley oversaw the State Street Revitalization Project and on November 15, 1996, the street was reopened to traffic.

      During the 20th century, State Street was largely eclipsed by Michigan Avenue's Magnificent Mile shopping district. Various projects to restore State Street's glory have been met with some success, and the State Street corridor is gaining residential as well as more traditional commercial development.
        • 8 Years Ago
        Sounds like some streets in Lansing, MI.

        Here in downtown, the city closed several blocks to traffic to create a walkable shopping area. Several blocks completely died. Now that the city is reopening the area to traffic, its booming again.

        People will walk across a parking lot to go to a mall, but will not walk several blocks from their car to shop and eat on a street.
        • 8 Years Ago
        Same thing happened with Chestnut St. (west of Broad) in Philly. All the stores, traffic (both car and foot) moved to nearby Walnut, and the street became pretty dead. They finally undid the mistake a couple of years ago.
        • 8 Years Ago
        The Lansing example may be more fully attributed to the death of the city of Lansing, MI, itself, known widely as the home of the destitute and unemployed.
      • 8 Years Ago
      There are plenty of folks who would be glad to avoid driving in Manhattan. And paying Manhattan parking rates.

      NYC should spend their money educating people on park n ride programs.
        • 8 Years Ago
        Dave: What The Hell? Park and Ride works in the suburbs. The conjestion in NYC mostly caused by commercial traffic.

        18,000 restaurants & bars, 100,000+ other business taking deliveries, Fedex, UPS, DHL, 13,000 Yellow cabs, thousands of Limos, 8,000 buses, Ambulances, Fire trucks, police cars, 6,000 school buses, hundreds of tow trucks. All that plus the endless cycle of construction that has been going on for the 30 years that I have lived and worked around NYC.

        People who live in Manhattan seldom use their cars in and around Manhattan during the day. It's the folks from the 'burbs.
        • 8 Years Ago
        "People who live in Manhattan seldom use their cars in and around Manhattan during the day. It's the folks from the 'burbs. "

        Mr Oak-

        Your post agrees completely with what I said.

        The only traffic that can be decreased is the folks from the burbs - the ones who need to be educated on park n ride. Just like I said.

        There is almost nothing that can be done about commercial traffic without crippling services.
        • 8 Years Ago
        Here, Here Mr. Oak!

        Even the impact of commuters coming in is minimal (in terms of people driving themselves to work) .. Anyone with half a brain (and/or a bank account devoid of zeros in front of the decimal point) takes the bus, subway, LIRR, PATH, or Metro-North into Manhattan.

        Robert Moses is turning over in his grave..
      • 8 Years Ago
      I believe this is what they did to Denver's 16th street, and that appears like it worked great. Now there's just a bunch of bicycle rickshaws and pedestrians. It's a neat street to go shopping!

      I think this would work great, but someone would need to make sure they maintain an adequate level of disability access. And I'm pretty sure New York has a program, but they just need to make sure. It's easy to step on the most vulnerable in our society.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Haha, "Manhattan Project."
      • 8 Years Ago
      Excuse me, just a small correction... The architect's name is *Jan Gehl*, not Jim Gehr :)
      • 8 Years Ago
      What about banning all cars, and issuing state-supplied bikes and golf carts instead? Trucks and buses are still allowed.

      • 8 Years Ago
      "don't forget the ones who must pass thru Manhattan to go to and from Long Island despite the presence of the BQE(Brooklyn-Queens Expressway), "

      Actually noone "must pass thru" Manhattan-they can go thru the Bronx, just crossing Manhattan at 181st-avoiding almost all the traffic .

      "The vast majority of the cars driving to Manhattan during the rush hour (remember, Bloomberg's proposition would add the $8 only during peak hours) is passanger cars. There is very little commercial traffic around me at that time."

      That's not what I'm seeing at the tunnel.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I made the mistake once while living in Manhattan of taking a taxi crosstown from Penn Station on the West Side to a friend's office near the UN on the East Side. The walk would have taken 25 minutes, the cab ride took half an hour and cost thirty dollars. It's not that you can't drive at all in Manhattan but midtown and downtown traffic (Wall Street up to Central Park) is truly absurd. Walking is often faster for short trips and the subway for virtually all trips that use the surface streets as opposed to the East and West Side highways.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'm a Manhattan resident. I pay to garage a car in the city which we use almost exclusively to get out of town on weekends. On Friday evening, we join the hordes of New Jersey-registered cars making their way to the George Washington Bridge. Over the last few years, the traffic jam has lasted later and later into the evening. It's not uncommon to face 5 to 7 miles of backup at 8:30 PM.

      I understand why people drive into Manhattan: New Jersey Transit, the Long Island Railroad and Metro North lines are running at full capacity. About half of the subway lines (which only cover parts of Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens) are at more than 100% capacity.

      On the one hand, the selfish side of me loves the idea of congestion pricing. But the reality is that with no other systems to take up the slack, it will inevitably result in the loss of many of the high-paying jobs that make Manhattan so attractive. That's the problem with plans such as these. They sound great (who wouldn't like more pedestrian space in Manhattan with sidewalk cafes and the like?), but commerce is the lifeblood of our city and we monkey with it at our peril.
        • 8 Years Ago
        best answer on here, if you dont like the traffic (or the commute), move, I did and will never go back to the area for work ever again....
      • 8 Years Ago
      Congestion pricing would work, but nobody will have the political cahones to go along with Bloomberg on it. Simply making traffic worse by closing certain roads won't work, people clearly have a tolerance for the current level of traffic or they wouldn't be out there creating it. Close one road and the traffic around it will increase for a while, then everyone will learn how to deal with it, and traffic around that area will drop back to the same level you had before. People are willing to put up with some chance of bad traffic for the convenience of using a specific road.

      I make that choice when I drive from Brooklyn to NJ - I start near the Brooklyn Bridge and my destination in NJ is West of the Holland Tunnel. I can take my chances with the Brooklyn Bridge and Holland Tunnel, and maybe spend 30 - 45 minutes getting through the tunnel, or I can take the Verrazano and go through Staten Island and go the extra distance but not sit at the tunnel. However, I'm willing to chance the 30 minute wait at the tunnel for the convenience of taking the more direct route (not to mention that Staten Island can be a traffic nightmare too!). Now, if you start charging me $8 to pass through lower Manhattan... I'll think twice.
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