DOT Plans to Turn Broadway by Madison Square Into a “Shared Space”

Images: DOT
Images: DOT

DOT is set to redesign a block of Broadway by Madison Square Park as a permanent “shared space,” where motor vehicles are allowed but pedestrians take priority.

On Tuesday DOT presented the Manhattan Community Board 5 transportation committee with a plan to establish Broadway between 25th and 24th streets as a 5 mph zone with mixed pedestrian, cyclist, and car traffic [PDF]. The idea is that people on foot would have free range, essentially creating a larger plaza space out of the block, while low volumes of cars would still be permitted and drivers would be expected to travel at walking speeds.

This one-block segment of Broadway, where DOT expanded the pedestrian area known as Flatiron Plaza in 2008, would be converted from southbound traffic flow to northbound, and the zone of travel for motor vehicles would be demarcated by neckdowns, signage, and big rocks to signal motorists to slow down.

The project is intended to make it safer and easier to walk in an area where there is more foot traffic than cars. Crashes decreased by 29 percent in the two years after DOT installed the plaza, according to DOT.


South of the new public space, 24th Street would be realigned to meet Fifth Avenue at a right angle, with more direct crosswalks, plus a new one across Broadway east of Fifth.

The existing bike-share station would be shifted north and sited within the shared street space. While cyclists will have access to the shared street, they will also have an official route around it, with the Broadway bike lane jogging over to a contraflow segment on 25th Street and then Fifth Avenue.

The CB 5 committee endorsed the plan, along with the Fifth Avenue bikeway. Construction, to be managed by the Department of Design and Construction, is expected to take 18 months and scheduled to begin this summer.

The shared space concept is a novel approach for DOT that could be expanded to other streets. The narrow, low-traffic streets of the Financial District, in particular, are considered an excellent candidate for shared space design.