(Lauren Evans) Despite all his progressivism, Future Mayor Bill de Blasio is a bit unsure about this pedestrian plaza business. Asked during Tuesday's debate to share his feelings on the plazas, which have transformed Times and Herald squares during the Bloomberg era, de Blasio was cagey with his response.
"I have profoundly mixed feelings on this issue," he said. "I'm a motorist myself, and I was often frustrated, and then I've also seen on the other hand that it does seem to have a positive impact on the tourist industry. So for me the jury's out on that particular question. I think it's worth assessing what the impact has been on traffic, what the impact has been on surrounding businesses. I will keep an open mind."
Advocacy groups argue that de Blasio's reticence is inconsistent with his goal to eliminate traffic deaths within 10 years, a platform referred to as "Vision Zero."
“Putting pedestrians first is clearly saving lives and boosting business, and nowhere is that more apparent than in Times Square," Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, told Streetsblog. Stranger still is that de Blasio would take issue with a facet of city life that New Yorkers generally agree on—the Times reported in August that 72 percent of residents approve of the pedestrian plazas. Moreover, 64 percent approve of the bike lane network that Bloomberg expanded and 73 percent approve of Citi Bike.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/EMMANUEL DUNAND