Skip to Content
Streetsblog Los Angeles home
Streetsblog Los Angeles home
Log In
car free

L.A. Times Looks at NYC’s Car-Free Times Square

Today's Los Angeles Times published a mostly glowing review of the crown jewel of New York's recent efforts to make the Big Apple a more-friendly city to cyclists and pedestrians by Tina Susman.  While the story isn't a new one for regular readers of all the Streetsblogs, and perhaps an uninteresting one for those who's advocacy efforts don't extend outside of Los Angeles; there's a lot that can be learned from the piece.

First, Susman does give space to the minority of New Yorkers who don't support closing Times Square to vehicular traffic.  After the NYCDOT announced their plans to close the square, the Car Culture warriors coined the term "Carmagedddon" to describe what would happen to New York's streets when a sliver of it was given over to people instead of cars.  Today, all they can offer was that the car-free Times Square hasn't made traffic any better...as though that's the only reason to make changes in the transportation system.  The only people that say car traffic is worse are cabbies who have to driver longer routes.

Speaking forcefully against the plan is a political rival of Mayor Bloomberg's who complains that it is " it was unfair to punish drivers" by taking away "their" road space.  It's a shame that the councilman can't see of the car-free Times Square for what it is, the opening of public space to everyone to use; including the minority of New Yorkers that own private automobiles.  That explains why New Yorkers overwhelmingly approve of a car-free Times Square.

The other complaint is that taking cars off the road and increasing pedestrian traffic is bad for business.  Foot traffic is up over 50% on both weekends and weekdays in Times Square, and the business-friendly Times Square Alliance forcefully backs the plan.

The question that isn't addressed is that if car-free Times Square is such a hit in New York, why isn't a plan like this even on the radar for our Downtown?  The closest the Times comes to an explanation is this:

There are about 6,375 miles of paved streets, including the sidewalks,in New York City, whose population is 8.9 million, according to thetransportation department. Los Angeles, with a population of 3.8million and far fewer walkers, has 10,000 miles.

Based on these figures there is somewhere over 8.8 million walkers in New York as opposed to nearly 3.8 million walkers in Los Angeles.  With over 50% more streets serving less than half as many people; it shouldn't be such a challenge to turn over some of that car-only real estate for everyone to use.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Los Angeles

Metro and Caltrans Expect to Complete Torrance 405 Freeway Widening Project Next Month

Metro and Caltrans are adding nearly two miles of new auxiliary freeway lanes, a new on-ramp, and widening adjacent streets including Crenshaw Boulevard and 182nd Street

July 19, 2024

Strategizing About Reduced Funding in the Active Transportation Program

Funding for Cycle 7 of the Active Transportation Program is less than $200 million, and already there have been requests for fifteen times the amount of available funding

July 18, 2024

Eyes on the Street: Hollywood Boulevard Bike Lanes are Open

The Hollywood bike lanes project, already very much in use, is also already being criticized by commenters at Nextdoor and other social media

July 17, 2024
See all posts