Civic Groups Renew Call for Streets That Support Public Expression

Thousands marched for women’s rights in NYC on Saturday. Photo: mathiaswasik/Flickr
Thousands marched for women’s rights in NYC on Saturday. Photo: mathiaswasik/Flickr

Yesterday Transportation Alternatives and other civic organizations reiterated their call for Mayor de Blasio to make major streets and public spaces more suitable for public demonstrations.

After a larger than expected turnout for the Women’s March over the weekend, TA released a statement noting the overflow crowds:

On Saturday, the area around Grand Central Terminal was overwhelmed with demonstrators. All trains and platforms on trains bound for Grand Central were overflowing. At the march itself, crowds were so much larger than the designated protest route could contain that impromptu gatherings filled the adjacent streets on Madison, Lexington and 3rd avenues. Many people on surrounding streets were not able to reach the official march. While the NYPD did a commendable job with crowd control under the circumstances, there were cars and taxis jockeying for room in these overflow spaces, and any vehicle traveling through a large crowd creates unsafe conditions.

In December a coalition of 13 groups, including the Regional Plan Association, Project for Public Spaces, and the Municipal Art Society, said the city should take steps to better accommodate free expression in New York’s streets and public spaces.

“The ‘ped-lock’ we saw Saturday at the Women’s March in NYC was a clear demonstration of what we told Mayor de Blasio in our recent letter: now more than ever, in the Trump era, New York City needs to make strategic investments to expand public space to accommodate public expression,” TA Executive Director Paul White said in a statement.

Among other proposals, the coalition wants the de Blasio administration to reallocate space on Fifth Avenue and 14th Street to people and transit. TA will hold a rally for the car-free 14th Street PeopleWay concept this Thursday.