PURPOSE: To reclaim underutilized asphalt as public space without large capital expenditure
LEADERS: City Departments, Business Improvement Districts
SCALE: Street || Block
FACT: Following the implementation of the New Times Square pedestrian plaza, injuries to motorists and their passengers declined by 63%. Similarly, pedestrian injuries decreased 35%, even while pedestrian volumes increased

Pavement to Plaza programs, popularized recently in New York City, but echoed in cities like San Francisco, seemingly define sanctioned tactical urbanism. These interventions typically start by using temporary, inexpensive materials to re-assign excessive motor vehicle space for the use of pedestrians and/or bicyclists.

Because these efforts do not require a large outlay of capital, public spaces are able to appear almost overnight.
While the city funds the design and the construction, partners from the local business or advocacy community
are usually asked to operate, maintain, and manage the new plazas.

Following the immediate closure of Times Square, the centerpiece of New York’s highly successful “Greenlight for Midtown” street improvement project, Tim Tompkins of the Times Square Alliance realized that people might want to sit somewhere. So, he bought 376 folding chairs for $10.74 each and “instantly — millions of people have a new way of enjoying the city.”

By taking this experimental “pilot project” approach using temporary materials, the City and public-at-large are able to test the performance of each new plaza without wasting scarce public resources. When successful, the plazas transition into a more permanent design and construction phase, which is happening currently in many of New York City’s first generation of pilot plazas and sustainable street projects.


Tagged: tactical, tactical urbanism