According to the New York Times' Winnie Hu and Andrea Salcedo, the city of New York transformed one of its busiest streets into a "busway." The 21,000 vehicles that use 14th St. daily took a major nosedive once passenger cars were "all but banned."
From now on, drivers are allowed onto 14th Street only to make deliveries and pick up and drop off passengers from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. They can travel just a block or two before they have to turn right off the street. No left turns are allowed. The police will give out warnings at first and surveillance cameras will be watching.
For some commuters, the 14th St. change meant they actually arrived early to their destination. For once, taking the bus turned out to be a benefit:
“Buses are moving a lot faster,” said Steven Colon, 25, a customer assistant at a grocery store, who commutes to work by bus along 14th Street. “This is a good idea because a lot of people double park and it causes a lot of congestion.”
As with any major transportation change, tempers flared among some commuters. The Times' Hu and Salcedo report:
The city’s campaign to make its streets less welcoming to cars has drawn an increasingly intense backlash from drivers, businesses and residents who have gone to court to stop some of the efforts, including the new rules along 14th Street.
“It’s a big inconvenience,” said Richard Small, a New Jersey commuter who will now have to drive five blocks out of his way to get to work on 14th Street. “I think it’s extreme and there should be a compromise. Everybody pays taxes — not just the people in the buses.”
Some think the city's tactics are simply too extreme, failing to take in the needs of all residents at the same time.
Per the the Times, New York is not the first major city to reduce the number of cars on the road. Traffic has many consequences, not least among them contributing to the climate crisis, and New York City is following the lead of other urban areas like Paris, London and Barcelona in its efforts to alleviate major street congestion. Fans of the new 14th St. rules are already calling for similar rules elsewhere in the U.S.
Nevertheless, according to the New York Post, many residents fall somewhere between irate and skeptical about the change:
“It’s going to push all the traffic onto 15th Street and 13th Street and it’s tough enough there trying to find parking,” said one neighbor, who only identified himself as Jeff. “I’m not happy … I don’t think it was a good idea, but we will see.”