Action Items Recommended by
the Mayor's Times Square Task Force
On October 1, 2015, the de Blasio administration released a series of recommendations to improve pedestrian plazas, traffic, the solicitation of tips, and a number of other issues in and around the Times Square area. You can find those recommendations below and read the Mayor's official press release here.
To follow the progress of the Mayor's task force recommendations, visit our tracker.
Now – Immediate, through the end of plaza construction:
- The NYPD is deploying a dedicated NYPD officer detail in Times Square. This dedicated group of officers will be able to familiarize themselves with the unique challenges in Times Square and provide continuous deterrence of illegal behavior.
- Give visitors information on how to safely enjoy Times Square. The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), in partnership with the Times Square community, will provide information to tourists and visitors to protect them from unwanted solicitation, pickpocketing and other problematic behavior.
- The administration will complete capital construction of the plazas. Many current issues with congestion and pedestrian flow are a result of the ongoing construction of the Broadway plazas and the reconstruction of 7th Avenue.
While the construction is ongoing, the City will:
- Add traffic enforcement agents and crossing guards, where appropriate, during peak times. These agents will keep both pedestrian and vehicular traffic moving smoothly.
- Limit street-permitted activity (such as street fairs) in the area. Street fairs, and other uses of the streets permitted by the Mayor’s Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management/Street Activity Permit Office (CECM/SAPO) serve an important civic and community function. However, they also contribute to traffic congestion, which is already negatively impacted by the ongoing construction activity in Times Square. CECM/SAPO will, until construction in Times Square is complete, (i) ban SAPO-permitted activity on side streets in the area (42nd Street to 50th Street; from 6th Avenue to 7th Avenue and Broadway to 8th Avenue), and, (ii) in partnership with the NYPD and the Times Square community, take steps to limit permitted activity in other areas, including the plazas and avenues.
- Evaluate other short-term measures to improve congestion and traffic flow. The New York City Department of Transportation will undertake a short-term analysis to determine what immediate changes can be made to improve mobility and safety during the construction.
- Eliminate unnecessary obstructions across the area, such as construction materials and equipment, unneeded and duplicate signs, and, where possible, unused news kiosks, and telephone booths.
- Create a stakeholder working group. This group, composed of representatives from relevant implementation agencies and local stakeholders, will see these recommendations through and monitor emergent issues in Times Square.
Even as the City takes these immediate steps, it will work together to create new regulatory tools to ensure a vibrant, safe, and functional public space in the Times Square area:
Soon – Beginning within 12 months, after the completion of the construction, or requiring legislative action.
- Empower NYC DOT with rulemaking authority to develop common sense time, place, and manner regulations in public plazas, including, but not limited to, Times Square. There is currently no entity empowered to develop rules to manage commercial and civic activities in pedestrian plazas. Working with the City Council, the administration will empower the NYC DOT to step into this role. Once empowered, in Times Square, working with local stakeholders, NYC DOT will develop regulations to bring order to the times, places, and manners in which solicitation, expressive activity, and performance may occur, such as through designated areas.
- Codify the significance and uniqueness of Times Square through a “public place” designation. The Department of City Planning (DCP) will work with the Borough President, the City Council, and Community Board 5 to initiate a Uniform Land Use Review Process to designate the Times Square “Bowtie” as a public place.
- Remodel NYPD substation to make more visible, functional, and attractive. NYPD’s substation in Times Square will serve as a base for the newly created Times Square Unit and will be utilized as a recruitment center.
- Explore the creation of a designated special enforcement unit with responsibility for vending. Vending rules are currently not enforced by a dedicated set of inspectors. Instead, enforcement responsibility is diffused and largely sits with the NYPD. Vending regulations are complicated and could benefit from enforcers with specialized expertise. The City will explore the creation of a dedicated set of inspectors, detailed initially to Times Square, to enforce the City’s vending laws.
- Local law to create a new category of vendors to include ticket sellers (particularly theater and tour busses). Ticket sellers, particularly for performance events and tour busses, currently overwhelm areas of Times Square. Due to a recent court case, sellers of tickets are not subject to vending restrictions that regulate the sellers of other goods and services on streets and sidewalks. A new local law would subject these vendors to the vending regulations of the Department of Consumer Affairs.
- Regulate vending on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th avenues. Current vending rules allow late-night vending along 42nd Street that crowds sidewalks and forces pedestrians into traffic, contributing to a chaotic and potentially unsafe environment. Working with the City Council, the City will pursue additional limitations on vending activity along 42nd Street and in other problematic areas in the Times Square area.
- Undertake area-wide transportation study after construction is completed in order to consider improvements to the plaza space, reduce congestion, and improve safety. NYC DOT and DCP will undertake a comprehensive study following the completion of the construction. This study will include recommendations to improve safety and pedestrian and vehicular flow through the broader Times Square area. This study will evaluate the relocation of tour bus locations (which currently contribute to crowding and traffic congestion), and the current signalization and traffic restrictions (i.e., left turns) governing vehicular and pedestrian movement in the area.
- Recommend further physical improvements to the plazas after the construction is complete. In addition, in the wake of the completion of the construction, NYC DOT and DCP will conduct a study with regard to activities, pedestrian mobility, attractiveness other amenities and recommend design changes to the plazas as appropriate.
- Bring more place-making programming to the pedestrian plazas. NYC DOT, the Mayor’s Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management and Street Activity Permit Office, the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Times Square community will work together to encourage positive, community-based activities in Times Square.