NYPD Surrounds Flatiron Plaza With Concrete Barriers, Because Terrorism

There has to be a better way to protect people from drivers than these blocky, heavy-handed barricades.

Photo: David Meyer
Photo: David Meyer

Sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning, NYPD surrounded Flatiron Plaza, where Broadway crosses Fifth Avenue, with concrete barriers. Similar barriers could be coming to public spaces throughout the city in the name of NYPD’s counterterror initiatives.

The Jersey barriers are all around the perimeter of Flatiron Plaza, making it look like a fortress, impeding pedestrian access, and protruding into the bike lanes on the edges of the pedestrian space. For some reason NYPD put the barriers between the bike lane and the pedestrian space, so they don’t provide people on bikes with any protection from car traffic.

At Herald Square a few blocks north, concrete blocks, metal fencing, and police cruisers now cordon off both ends of the block-long bike lane between 35th and 34th streets. Last night, southbound cyclists were either riding into the bike lane via the adjacent sidewalk or going down 35th Street to ride against traffic on Sixth Avenue for a block. A handful dismounted and walked until the bike lane resumed.

herald sq barriers 3
The cordon at Herald Square cuts off access to one block of the Broadway bike lane. Photo: David Meyer

These new barricades are similar to measures at Times Square that NYPD implemented soon after Richard Rojas drove onto the sidewalk, ramming dozens of people until he was stopped by a metal bollard.

The barriers were a surprise to the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership, which manages the plaza at Broadway and Fifth, according to executive director Jennifer Brown. Her staff eventually learned that NYPD put down the barriers to prevent terrorists from weaponizing motor vehicles, and that similar measures could be coming to public spaces around the city.

She said her organization would monitor the impact on pedestrian circulation, and could eventually try to paint or otherwise beautify the barriers, but was resigned to their presence. “I don’t know if it’s our role to question the security measures that [NYPD] counterterrorism is taking,” Brown said.

Streetsblog contacted NYPD and DOT for more information on the barriers and the larger citywide undertaking, and has yet to hear back.

Update: The DOT press office says: “We are speaking with PD re the location of such structures and security is the top priority.”