The Greenlight for Midtown Project is an innovative example of piloting city development. The project was initiated in 2009 by the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) to improve the pedestrian experience along broadway, an area of the city that had previously been one of the most congested and dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians in New York.
The project was conceived when Project for Public Spaces were commissioned in 2006 to better understand and reimagine how Times Square performs as a public space. This work led to the temporary closure of Broadway between 47th and 42nd Streets to all vehicular traffic to create a pedestrian plaza. New Yorkers were surprised to find simple outdoor chairs and furniture scattered across what had previously been a highly trafficked intersection. This piloting model allowed the idea to be implemented in a very short time period, at low costs and allow them to assess the success over an eight-month period in relation to a set of measurable criteria. The project was very popular and construction of permanent changes started in 2012 and is expected to be complete by December 2016. So far, there have been some impressive statistics:
Biking has increased by 91% on Broadway at 50th Street to an average of 1,411 cyclists a day
The changes on Broadway from Columbus Circle to 48th Street shortened crossing distances and protected pedestrians, reducing crash injuries from an average of 37.7 per year to 23 per year—a decline of 39%.
74% of New Yorkers surveyed agreed that Times Square improved dramatically as a result of the project.
Journey times for taxis and buses were improved for the area, even though there was a reduction in road space
Pedestrian injuries in the entire project declined 35%, while 80% fewer pedestrians are walking in the road in Times Square.
More information and updates about the project can be found here