NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If you were in New York during the holiday season, you most likely could barely move through widespread elbow-to-elbow sidewalk congestion.
While officials aren’t yet ready to charge a congestion fee to walk around, they are vowing a crackdown.
It isn’t just carmageddon anymore; human traffic jams, like one that popped up on the Brooklyn Bridge over the weekend, are causing havoc on city streets. It’s prompted the at-times slow-footed mayor to order city agencies to run, not walk, to develop a plan of action.
“I instructed all the agencies involved to act immediately when I heard those reports,” Bill de Blasio said on Thursday.
He was referring to the Brooklyn Bridge, which a year ago was experiencing a 27 percent increase in weekend pedestrian traffic amounting to over 32,000 people, as well as a 104 percent hike in bike traffic.
It’s so bad, a Department of Transportation spokesman told CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer “We are actively investigating the feasibility of expanding the Brooklyn Bridge walkway.”
If the bridge’s cables can bear the weight, it would involve the existing walkway down the center of the bridge having two new wings.
But it’s not just the Brooklyn Bridge where pedestrians are clogging the streets. It’s happening all over the city in Midtown, TriBeca, and the Theater District too.
So what are officials going to do about it?
“We do have to come up with a strategy for the holiday season in 2019,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill admitted Thursday. “There’s a number of steps that we need to take moving forward, we do have to look at vendors to make sure they’re not clogging the sidewalk. We have to make sure there’s nothing interfering with pedestrian flow.”
Some have suggested the city charge a tourist tax to get onto the bridge or get to certain parts of the city, something de Blasio says he’s not a fan of.
“At first blush I don’t like the idea,” he said. “I’ll always be willing to discuss it.”
O’Neill says he expects to have a new pedestrian mobility plan in place by Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, de Blasio added he’s also looking at the possibility of restricting street vendors to certain zones.