The Real Deal New York

Bratton backtracks on Times Square pedestrian plazas

Police commissioner acknowledges stakeholder support for pedestrian areas

September 22, 2015 05:20PM

Times Square New York

From left: Pedestrian zones in Times Square and Bill Bratton

Police commissioner Bill Bratton backtracked Tuesday on calls to rip out Times Square’s pedestrian plazas, acknowledging stakeholder support for the plazas created by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration.

At a breakfast meeting in Midtown hosted by the Association for a Better New York, Bratton said construction on the Times Square plazas should continue as a de Blasio administration task force prepares recommendations for managing the area.

Those recommendations, which are to be released next month, are expected to include restricting certain street entrepreneurs to designated sections of the area, according to Crain’s.

Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio shocked pedestrian safety advocates last month by suggesting the city should restore vehicular traffic to Times Square streets, after tabloid headlines had drawn attention to naked painted street performers and costumed characters aggressively soliciting tips from tourists.

While office workers in Times Square have complained about navigating the area, which draws roughly 500,000 people daily, no momentum for yanking out the plazas materialized.

Instead, de Blasio was accused of betraying the safe-streets movement, while the Times Square Alliance ridiculed the idea of eliminating, rather than managing, the spaces.

Even after the idea received widespread criticism, the mayor continued to state that the removal of the pedestrian plazas was an option. But Bratton’s statements suggest that plaza supporters will prevail. [Crain’s]Rey Mashayekhi