Close Broadway to cars through Times Square in New York City? "Never happen", said political observers. "It will kill us", said the business owners. After a couple of years, it's been a grand success.
PlaNYC, announced in 2007, included the pedestrianization of Times Square plus Bus Rapid Transit to the Bronx, 200 additional miles of separated bike lanes, and transportation planners shifting focus to moving people instead of cars. Bus speeds have gone up by 20 percent. Ridership is up 30 percent. You can sit at a sidewalk cafe in Times Square and have a conversation without shouting over the traffic noise. There has been a 63 percent reduction in traffic injuries in Times Square. The business owners loved seeing more foot traffic. Mayor Bloomberg says that life expectancy in the city has increased by 1 year and 7 month over the last 8 years, due at least in part to fewer traffic deaths.
The video below shows the NYC mayor, city commissioners, and transportation planners commenting on how this has worked for citizens and businesses. From the intro:
"New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Department of Transportation are on a mission to make the Big Apple the "greatest, greenest big city in the world" by ramping up bicycle infrastructure across the city, introducing bus rapid transit to the Bronx, and pedestrianizing Times Square, among other bold transportation initiatives."
The same can happen here.