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City-Sponsored Study Touts Benefits Of Pedestrian Plazas, Bike Lanes

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A newly-released study has indicated that pedestrian plazas and protected bike lanes in New York City have been good news for local business, and for public safety.

"Measuring the Street," released Tuesday by the Department of Transportation, showed that retail sales jumped 172 percent in three years after the very first pedestrian plaza opened in an underused parking area on Pearl Street, in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn. Retail sales only jumped 18 percent on average borough-wide, the study said.

The study also found that along Eighth and Ninth avenues in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, there have been major changes since the first protected bike lanes in the country were developed. Eighth Avenue has seen a 35 percent decrease in injuries to all street users, and Ninth Avenue has seen a 58 percent decrease, the study said.

Ninth Avenue between 23rd and 31st streets has also seen a 49 percent increase in retail sales, the study said.

Following a neighborhood traffic calming, which included dedicated left-turn bays, widened parking lanes and a painted median on East 180th Street in the Bronx, the area has seen a 67 percent decrease in car-into-pedestrian crashes, the study said.

With the addition of a protected bike path and a pedestrian plaza in Union Square, speeding decreased 167 percent, injuries fell 26 percent, and the number of commercial vacancies dropped 49 percent, the study said. The study also found that 74 percent of users prefer the new configuration.

And on Pearl Street in the Financial District, the creation of a mini-plaza with seating out of a curb lane has resulted in a 77 percent increase in seated pedestrians, and a 14 percent increase in sales at businesses on the block, the study said.

The study also noted a 177 increase in bicycle volumes, and a 12 percent increase in bus ridership, with the addition of bike and bus lanes on First and Second avenues in Manhattan. The two thoroughfares also saw a 37 percent decrease in injury crashes, the study said.

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