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.

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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.”

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“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)

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