City to Put Pedestrians First with a Shared Street Near 'Charging Bull'

Pedestrians cross Broadway at Bowling Green, the site of "Charging Bull," where the city proposes to create a shared street between Morris and Beaver Streets. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Jul. 07, 2019

The city is looking to bring some sanity to the streets around one of the citys most popular tourist attractions: Charging Bull.

Where visitors now spill out of the bull’s triangular plaza home at Bowling Green and into lanes of traffic on Broadway, the Department of Transportation is proposing to put pedestrians first with what it calls a shared street. Broadway splits off at the north end of the plaza. Along its east side, between Morris and Beaver Streets, pedestrians and vehicles would share specially paved and marked roadway, alerting drivers to the five-mile-an-hour zone. 

“We’re creating a clear message to all road users that this is a different type of space,” said David Breen, a DOT project manager who presented the plan to Community Board 1’s Transportation Committee on July 2. “This is a space where pedestrians have priority.” 

“Traffic becomes almost a guest in the space,” he added

Though the DOT counts few injuries from crashes around Bowling Green (one cyclist, one pedestrian and five occupants of motor vehicles between 2013 and 2017), officials say it is an ideal site to inaugurate what is planned to be a number of other pedestrian-priority areas in Lower Manhattan. In April, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the DOT would study options for creating shared streets in Lower Manhattan as one of several traffic improvement initiatives by the city. Councilwoman Margaret Chin had secured $500,000 for the study more than two years ago. The DOT is still designing the street improvement study, which encompasses streets south of the Brooklyn Bridge, between Broadway and Water Street.

Pedestrians far outnumber cars in the area, an important criteria for a shared street, Breen said. “We see the number of people who are trying to cross the street and jaywalking, and a lot of people congregating outside as they fight their way through the crowds to get in and out from the bull,” he said. “A lot of people in the roadway and a lot of people penned into the area.”

Plans call for widened sidewalks on Broadway, both east and west of the park, with a shorter Broadway crosswalk at Morris Street on the west side. Broadway on the east side of Bowling Green—the shared street—would be paved with a gravel material; contrasting colors in the pavement would deliniate pedestrian and vehicular zones. In 2017, a similar shared street was installed on Broadway between 24th and 25th Streets. 

Following consultation with stakeholders, including local businesses, Breen said, the agency hopes to begin work at the site during the late fall or early spring.