Except for occasional spates of speeding and drag-racing, the streets of New York City have been pretty quiet during the pandemic, thanks to a corresponding drop in traffic. And even as people stayed home, Mayor De Blasio closed off 23 miles of NYC streets to automobiles. These developments have led designers and urban planners to start imagining a car-free future for NYC once the current crisis passes.
In fact, there have been proposals put forth to turn the Brooklyn Bridge into something more akin to the High Line; now, architect Vishaan Chakrabarti and his firm, Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), has released plans to greatly reduce the number of individually-owned cars entering Manhattan, while refashioning streets to cede space to pedestrians and bikes.
PAU calls the project “N.Y.C. (Not Your Car),” and it is nothing if not ambitious. Besides restricting private motor vehicles and curbside parking, the program would enlarge sidewalks, replace car lanes with two-way bike paths protected by concrete barriers, increase dedicated bus lanes, create a new greenway along FDR Drive that would connect to the one on the West Side Highway, and dedicate more room on the Manhattan Bridge to ride-shares, buses, pedestrians and bikers.
Whether or not any of this becomes reality remains an open question, but in the meantime, you can check out how PAU envisions the city with fewer cars in these before and after images.
Park Avenue, Upper East Side:
Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard at 125th Street