Transformative Road Diet Images

Background Reading


Wednesday, January 29, 2014 | Branden Klayko.

New York City has been adjusting to its new Mayor Bill De Blasio, who took office at the beginning of the year. The new mayor has been slowly revealing his team of commissioners who will guide the city’s continued transformation. As AN has noted many times before, De Blasio’s predecessor Michael Bloomberg and his team already left a giant mark on New York’s built environment.

With little more than paint, planters, and a few well-placed bouldersBloomberg and former Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan‘s street interventions have been some of the most evident changes around the city. Whether it’s at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza, above, or at Snøhetta’s redesigned Times Square, these road diets shaved off excess space previously turned over to cars and returned it to the pedestrian realm in dramatic fashion as these before-and-after views demonstrate.

As we continue to learn more about our new Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, take a look back at 25 of the most exciting road diets and pedestrian plaza conversions across New York City from the Bloomberg era.

The value in this blog are its photographic renderings of the Before and After views. They use sliders to allow you show all or part of a view. The list of areas included are:

Location: Allen and Pike Streets in the Lower East Side.

Location: Holland Tunnel Area.

Location: St. Nicholas Avenue & Amsterdam Avenue.

Location: Allen and Pike Street in the Lower East Side.

Location: Harlem River Park Gateway.

Location: Herald Square.

Location: Harlem River Park Gateway.

Location: Broadway at Times Square.

Location: 12th Avenue West at 135th Street.

Location: Holland Tunnel Area.

Location: Louis Nine Boulevard.

Location: Delancey Street in the Lower East Side.

Location: Prospect Park West.

Location: Broadway at Times Square.

Location: Broadway & West 71st Street.

Location: Union Square.

Location: Columbus Avenue.

Location: Union Square.

Location: Water and Whitehall Streets.

Location: Union Square.

Location: Randall and Leggett Ave.

Location: Grand Army Plaza at the entrance to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

Location: Hoyt Avenue at the RFK Bridge.

All photos courtesy New York City Department of Transportation.


What is interesting about this series is how “visually transformative” green paint and white stripes can be without having to remove cars from the roads in every instance. This is useful to understand because it means that you can move gently towards your goals without having to ruffle too many feathers and yet at the same time able to gather valuable information about whether your changes have made a “technically transformative” change resulting in actual safety gains.

Recent proposed changes in Chicago focused on some 20 “no-car streets” which may not succeed. There is value in being deliberate in your designs for improvement that do not spell out a “sell out” but rather express a sense of prudent caution. Not every new idea is actual viable. It is possible to have a beautiful transformation of a given street that completely eliminates automobiles that in the end “does not work“.

Thank goodness, there are folks on the east and west coasts to offset the brash silliness of the midwest as expressed in Chicago.