Can Mayor Bloomberg’s Pedestrian Mall Work in Manhattan?

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed turning parts of Broadway in Manhattan into a pedestrian mall last week. It’s a quaint idea, but a difficult one to pull off. Whether New York can do it successfully is an open question. Indeed, the plan could make circulation in Manhattan a lot worse if the right capacity improvements aren’t made to accommodate traffic growth and address diversion.

Pedestrian malls have been tried in scores of citiess–more than 200–and only a handful have survived. Bloomberg would cut off blocks of the legendary thoroughfare around Times Square and Herald Square.

Mr. Bloomberg said the plan would relieve traffic congestion and make more room for pedestrians, enhancing some of the city’s most popular public spaces. But it could also change the very nature of some of Manhattan’s busiest and most famous areas, including the theater district, Times Square, the fashion district and Macy’s front stoop.

The New York Times thinks the idea is worthy of debate, and devotes a portion of its “Room for Debate” running blog/commentary to the issue. It includes contributions from me, Robert Sullivan, Alexander Garvin, Steve Davies, and Randal O’Toole.