New York City Mulls ‘6 1/2 Avenue’ Proposal, Linking Pedestrian Walkways In Midtown

Mayor Bloomberg Thrilled, But Many Drivers Say Whose Bright Idea Is This?

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new avenue is coming to Midtown. Actually, it’s a mini avenue seven blocks long and reserved for pedestrians.

And because it’s a “mini” street it’s got a “mini’ name — “6 1/2” Avenue.


CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer spent Friday investigating why the city is splitting avenues.

WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reports

It’s the latest idea for a “roadside intervention” from the people who brought you bike lanes and pedestrians plazas, building “between avenue” speed bumps on seven crosstown blocks to create a quarter mile promenade between public arcades in the heart of Midtown.

Click here to download the full proposal (.pdf)

What the city wants to do is install crosswalks and stop signs at certain intersections so that pedestrians don’t have to dodge the traffic.

“The real purpose of the project is safety, so we don’t want people to have to duck out between parked cars and do this kind of game of chicken,” said Department of Transportation Director of Pedestrian Programs Joshua Benson.

City officials say that as many as 1,200 people an hour stroll the covered arcades which run mid-block between 6th and 7th avenues from 51st to 57th streets.

“It’s a very clever idea.” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

The idea originated with architects David Grider and Brian Nesin of the group “Friends of Privately Owned Public Spaces.”

“We thought these spaces are great. They’re great to have lunch in; they’re great when its raining, if you’re trying to walk to your office. And so we thought what you need is some crosswalks because right now trucks park here and no one really knows about it,” Nesin said.

And while most pedestrians are gung-ho, drivers who will have to stop mid-block at the raised crosswalks aren’t so keen. They want to know whose bright idea this is.

“Yes, so we don’t get killed. Absolutely. The sooner the better,” Bronx resident Rachel Maldonado said.

“These streets are slow as they are already with the traffic. Why are they going to put a speed bump?” said Amir Aoufa of Brooklyn.

“That’s crazy,” one man told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman, “because there’s going to be traffic backed up all over the place.”

“People say ‘wait a second, streets are for cars.’ Streets are for people, some of whom use cars, some of whom use … some who use buses and trucks, but a large chunk of them walk,” Mayor Bloomberg added.

And there’s also a large chunk of people who say this will only worsen congestion in an already clogged section of the city.

Pending approval by Community Board 5 in mid-April, officials hope to install the project by July.

Proposed 6 1/2 Avenue - New York, NY - Mar 30, 2012 (credit: Alex Silverman / WCBS 880)

Proposed 6 1/2 Avenue - New York, NY - Mar 30, 2012 (credit: Alex Silverman / WCBS 880)

What do you think of the ‘6 1/2 Avenue’ proposal? Sound off in our comments section below. 

  • wolf

    If the city wants to spend money and improve safety they should make elevated sidewalks. Just think of all the new storefronts there will be.

  • bedigitals

    has DOT thought of snow plows and this obstruction or is Global warming the answer- I would think DOT will close the Lincoln, Holland, and Mid-town tunnels to cars and busses in favor of walking and biking into the city….good exercise in frustration Sadi-Kahn most likely never drove a car- can we get more rickshaws?

  • Robert Moses

    This is stupid. If it has an “avenue” name, then it should be for CARS ONLY, because “real” Americans DRIVE everywhere. Besides, a world-class city like New York has no business accommodating pedestrians.

  • Jack

    If you think you have a voice in this city then you are reading this in Bellevue Psychiatric Hosp.

  • Yaboo

    Outrageous waste of funds. I just lost my dental and optical coverage because of this economy. Where are peoples heads??

  • VY

    I like the pedestrian malls on Broadway, around Union Square Park, and Downtown on Wall Street near the East River. I would even suggest that Broadway be a pedestrian mall all the way from Columbus Circle south to where 5th Avenuse feeds south bound traffic into Broadway around 26th Strweet. As far as this 51st to 57th Street mid block mall between 6th and 7th Avenues, the city should save a lot of money and just put in Stop Signs where the crossings are. That’s it, just Stop Signs, no other fancy street work that costs big money, keep it simple and cheap.

  • None Of Your Business

    People (including me) already use those walkways and arcades as they presently exist without the city wasting millions (in cost overruns, etc.) creating raised roadways in the middle of the block which will impede vehicular traffic and create more traffic jams (of which we have enough already) and probably do nothing for pedestrian safety. Why don’t we take that money that Bloomberg, the DOT and Community Board 5 want to waste and use it for food and shelter for the homeless and for the public schools so we don’t produce a nation of morons. Bloomberg wasted mega-millions destroying Broadway turning it into a pedestrian mall (or whatever it was he called it). Do we have to waste even more money on the Bloomberg Follies?

    • Leslie

      ..and this will not reduce jaywalking. People, including me, will cross whereever they feel. I use these walkways and do fine crossing the street. usually enough traffic stopped already where there really isn’t an issue getting across. Waste of money.

    • NYC Taxpayer

      Bloomberg calls it “Broadway Boulevard.”

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