Last night's meeting marked the third go-round with the committee and came with a slew of revisions to DOT's original plan. Most important, DOT dropped plans to close two blocks of Union Square West for part of each day, choosing instead to auto allow traffic to continue directly from Broadway down to 14th Street, where it would be forced to turn west. Previously, drivers headed south on Broadway would have been required to turn on 18th Street, with cyclists allowed to continue a block further before turning.
Demands by businesses and residents also caused DOT to move the proposed protected bike lane on Broadway between 23rd and 18th Streets from the left side of the street to the right. Cyclists will have to switch from the left to the right of Broadway at Madison Square, but DOT assured the committee that it had a design to make that jump safe and easy.
But these changes, which will reduce pedestrian space and safety compared to the original design, weren't enough for the crowd gathered at last night's meeting. Every member of the public who spoke, with just one exception, was opposed to the plan, even though a show of hands revealed that around 40 percent of the audience supported the redesign. The loudest were residents who lived north of 17th Street, where the plan hadn't been revised by DOT.
Most wanted to toss the whole thing, except for perhaps a signal retiming at the northwest corner of Union Square. They were opposed to bike lanes, dismissive of pedestrian plazas, and livid about the changes to traffic patterns. They simultaneously complained that westbound streets would be impossible to access by car and that eastbound streets would be flooded with displaced traffic; only the precise levels of 2010 traffic, it would seem, are acceptable.Read more...