Turn Times Square Back Into Traffic Hell? Tell Bratton and de Blasio: No Way

Replacing people with cars? Not a good idea, public space advocates say. Photo: Nicolas Vollmer/Flickr
Try to picture ramming a road through this crowd and cramming them onto the sidewalk. Photo: Nicolas Vollmer/Flickr

Since Mayor Bill de Blasio won’t rule out the threat of removing the Times Square plazas, first raised by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, it’s time to take action. Two petitions are circulating to urge the mayor not to give Times Square back to cars.

One petition organized by the Design Trust for Public Space and backed by the Municipal Art Society and a similar petition from Transportation Alternatives call on Bratton and de Blasio to do the right thing by the hundreds of thousands of people who walk in Times Square every day.

“Commissioner Bratton and Mayor de Blasio want to rip up the pedestrian plazas. We can’t let that happen,” the Design Trust’s petition says. “Aggressive street performers and ‘desnudas’ are an enforcement problem. They aren’t a plaza problem.”

Here’s what some of the signatories are saying…

“Taking out the plazas is an insane, misguided idea that overlooks… the reasons the plazas were created in the first place,” wrote former MAS executive director and DOT chief of staff Margaret Newman. “This is a management issue that the city can solve in a creative not reactionary way. The plaza construction represents a huge effort in time and money for the city’s investment in public space. Surely there is a better solution here.”

“I don’t want to go back to a time where cars mattered more than people. The public already voted with their feet,” wrote Claire Weisz, a founding principal at WXY architecture and urban design.

“The plazas are essential for our quality of life,” wrote New Yorkers for Parks Executive Director Tupper Thomas.

The petition has gathered more than 1,800 signatures since launching last week.