After All, NYC Mayor Says Streets Are For Walking First, Driving Second

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Driving in Midtown is going to get even more difficult. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has plans for yet another car-free pedestrian mall.

This one is proposed for near Grand Central Terminal on Vanderbilt Avenue, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

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After building pedestrian malls all around the city, Bloomberg is finally coming clean about why he’s doing it. In his heart of hearts he believes streets are for feet — not cars.

“I think you gotta stop and say what are the streets for? They are for transportation. What is the basic first kind of transportation? It’s walking. And then you should look after that and see whether other things can fit in,” Bloomberg said.

The mayor made his strongest anti-car pronouncement to date while discussing the city’s latest plan for a pedestrian mall — closing Vanderbilt to traffic from 47th Street to 42nd Street.

Vanderbilt abuts Grand Central and, as CBS 2’s cameras observed, gets lots and lots of traffic from cars, taxis and trucks. However, in hizzoner’s eyes that’s not true. He said he thinks it’s okay to close it because in his mind it’s the road less traveled.

“Vanderbilt is a street that gets virtually no traffic. There’s some but very small,” the mayor said.

Some people welcome the idea of another car-free zone.

“[It’s a] great idea. There’s more places you can walk and fewer cars,” said Upper East Side resident Mark Kirsch.

“I think it’s an excellent idea. We need to have a little more place for people to walk. It’s just crazy. Look at the traffic,” added Indra Ramlogan of Ozone Park.

But if you ask taxi drivers dropping off fares at Grand Central, you’ll get an altogether different response.

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“This is not good idea. This is a bad idea because so many times people have too many luggage, not able to walk,” driver and Corona, Queens, resident Pir Hassan said.

Then there was the Fed Ex delivery man who spoke to Kramer.

“It’s gonna make it more difficult for us to work,” said Brian Arno, who lives in Harlem.

And then there are some of the people who commute to the city every day and don’t have time to walk around.

“I think it’s terrible,” said Dr. Mortimer Feinberg of Croton-On-Hudson, N.Y. “The problem with the mayor is he’s not running for re-election. Otherwise, I’d say I would not support him.”

Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Aaron Donovan said the use of Vanderbilt “is critical to emergency responses at Grand Central Terminal. The safety of MTA customers is paramount.”

Critics also wonder what will happen to the spaces reserved for law enforcement on Vanderbilt. Where will they park?

The mayor insisted that emergency vehicles will still be able to get to Grand Central, but since there are no design plans yet, it is unclear how.

Do you like the mayor’s idea? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …

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