Monday, February 20, 2012

Pedestrianizing experiment

This week our EBR assignment was to study the "cultural landscape", the landscape made by humans, of an urban lot designated by Parklets. 
So I went to 34th street Herald Square to snap some pictures of the newly revamped Broadway: the parklets outside shopping landmark Macy's where shrubs, bistro tables along with umbrellas are stationed.  
- Topography and history: This once car-oriented section area falls into one of the busiest shopping area of Manhattan. Now tourists, commuters and locals mix in these busy arteries. The now giant pedestrian zone area serves as a resting and safety island as well as a bike friendly lane. The parklet, one of 3 on this portion of Broadway, works as a "road diet" for the car traffic in order to allow this highly pedestrian area of Manhattan to be safer. 

Day: President day- 2/20/2012
Time: 6:30 pm - 6:45pm
Temperature: 34 degrees (felt like 20!)

Behavioral evaluation:
-Demographics: all ages. shoppers, tourists, couples, families, etc...
-Users patterns:  the preferred area is under the umbrellas on the periphery and then in the center area
-Occupation: reading, resting (from shopping sprees), having coffee, taking a phone call, having a smoke, eating a quick bite or enjoying a hot beverage.
-Comments: people do use these parklets: they love it! They stop there for a few minutes just time to enjoy a "time out". I was there for 15 minutes and saw people coming and leaving all this time. Most were not speaking English (French, Arab, Italian, Spanish) and seemed to be visitors/tourists. 
The city has successfully reclaimed the streets for the people - yet the only big minus is the bike lane which I don't think it was a success. I can see how mindless pedestrians don't pay attention to the cyclists  and constantly intrude the lane. I actually saw only one cyclist daring to use the bike lane and he had to get off his bike to cross the parklet.


  1. I wonder what they could do to make the bike lanes more noticeable? Barricades would be an obvious answer, but not particularly practical. What about painting the lane something like a hot pink or neon yellow? I imagine that this would work for a time, but my guess is that people would eventually become desensitized. But if it's mostly tourists, maybe not!

  2. I wonder whether this assumes that all non-vehicular uses should be / can be combined... Is it appropriate to assume that people and bikes can co-habit in a space of this size? I think it may make sense at a larger scale but wonder whether this makes sense where there are also no continuities guaranteed to bikers.