One unintended consequence of hiring Jan Gehl as a consultant for improving New York City's streets -- beyond the intended consequence of actually improving the streets -- is that the plans being implemented spark discussion, they make it into the news. And discussion and exposure around urban design, to me, is a good thing.
[Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times | image source]
One plan underway is the closure of a portion of the west side of the roadway on Broadway between 42nd and 34th Streets, in order to create a bike lane and "pedestrian living rooms." The green strip above will become the bike lane, with planters taking the place of the orange and white striped construction bollards, to buffer people sitting on cafe chairs in the new pedestrian strip, per the rendering below.
[Broadway Boulevard rendering | image source (PDF link)]
Locating seating in a narrow strip between two types of fast-moving traffic is the most questionable and controversial aspect of the plan, over the apparent increase in congestion that people incorrectly anticipate with fewer lanes of southbound traffic. (If anything, examples around the city -- Greenwich Village in particular -- show that fewer lanes reduces congestion, while an increase in lanes leads to an increase in traffic and congestion, a fact many people fail to accept.) Parked cars, while less than desirable in some respects, work as a buffer between pedestrians and cars; in August, when the improvements are complete, we'll see how willing people are to do without that buffer.
[L:New York Times graphic | image source; R:Furniture Locations | image source (PDF link)]