NEW YORK - Urban planners are looking for ways to make Downtown Brooklyn more friendly to pedestrians as leaders say New Yorkers are looking for more open-air spaces in urban areas.
The intersection of Bridge Street and Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn is one of the busiest commercial strips in the borough. Horns are honking, and trucks are passing through, but on many roadways in the area, Brooklynites are seeing colorful seating arrangements pop up in the street.
"It's pedestrian friendly, and I think it will bring more people and things to this area," says Erin Coker, who was having lunch at one of the tables.
The creation of these pedestrian enclaves is part of a project between the Department of Transportation and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, which represents multiple business improvement districts in the area.
"We really worked carefully with the Department of Transportation in New York City to bring what we think is New York City's largest shared street project to fruition this summer," says Regina Myer, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.
Many of the changed areas used to be parking spaces, but those were taken away to create the pedestrian-friendly installations. While locals say people who shop in the area are happy with the changes, as you can imagine, some drivers were not.
Raul Rivera is a ride-share driver who formed a group called NYC Drivers Unite. He feels that the city has consistently made life harder for those behind the wheel.
"A lot of advocacy groups in the city are trying to basically turn the city into like a park, you know? It's like a war on vehicles," Rivera says.
Ydanis Rodriguez, commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, says it's time to reimagine how we think of the roadways.
"The street belongs to not only car owners, but the street belongs to pedestrians, belongs to cyclists, belongs to all the families," Rodriguez tells CBS 2's Hannah Kliger.
Business owners like Daniel Shahzad, whose family has owned Fulton Hot Dog King for decades, says the plaza set up right on his doorstep has been a big benefit.
"They paint the place, they gave more color to the city," Shahzad says.
Camilla Opperman, founder and CEO of Nimbus, a shared commercial kitchen space and food hall, says her customers have really fallen in love with the spaces.
"This outdoor street installation has been really integral in increasing foot traffic to our space, driving brand awareness, and really ultimately fostering a sense of community," Opperman says.
DOT officials say similar work is happening in Jackson Heights, Queens, and Broadway from West 25th to West 32nd streets. Business improvement districts are covering the cost of the artwork, but the shared street work is included as part of the mayor's $900 million investment in DOT this year.
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