For Thanksgiving, Mayor de Blasio has given New York its holiday present: saner streets until New Year’s.
After initially backtracking a few weeks ago, Hizzoner has announced that he will open the streets around Rockefeller Center starting Black Friday to the hundreds of thousands of people who descend upon Midtown to see the tree daily.
Pedestrianizing Rockefeller Center is good for workers, good for stores, good for safety and good for the image New York presents to the world — but has to be done right.
The good news is things can’t get worse. In recent years, New York has “solved” the problem of record crowds — up to 20,000 pedestrians an hour walking Fifth Avenue — by punishing the people. Cement barriers closed off crosswalks and commuters clashed with spectators on too-narrow sidewalks.
Now, the majority will have more room. Weekday afternoons and almost all day on weekends, the city will take two of Fifth Avenue’s five lanes away from traffic, one on each side of the avenue, and block it off for wider sidewalks. Forty-ninth and 50th streets will be “open to pedestrians alone” during these busy times, with more space on Sixth Avenue, too.
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