NYC Will Install 1,500 New Barriers to Protect Pedestrians From Cars

In response to recent wave of vehicle attacks.

A car rests on a security barrier in New York's Times Square after driving through a crowd of pedestrians in May of 2017. A three-foot-tall piece of stainless steel in the ground ultimately stopped it. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

New York City is spending $50 million to protect its most high-profile public spaces from car attacks with roughly 1,500 metal bollards and large planters. Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference Tuesday that the bollards would replace the concrete cubes and barriers that have gone up around areas vulnerable to attack.

“That was necessary to immediately secure those areas in light of these new trends we’ve seen,” de Blasio said, according to the New York Times. “But we knew we needed long-term solutions, we needed permanent barriers.”

Several local officials and advocates are pushing for the city to go further and declare Times Square a car-free area, according to Curbed — although that concept doesn’t look like it will materialize any time soon.

Meanwhile, as Next City has covered, cities around the globe are weighing public safety concerns around vehicle attacks with the implications of so-called “militarized design.” Dario Nardella, mayor of Florence, Italy, recently announced that the city would use trees and planters, rather than bollards, as barriers for the city’s public spaces.

“The safety of these places is urgent and appropriate, but we cannot allow safety to transform thousands of squares and public spaces in Europe to become sites of barriers and concrete blocks, as if they were military checkpoints,” Italian architect Stefano Boeri said in a statement last fall.

New York, however, will have to reckon with more than aesthetics as it plans for pedestrian safety. According to the Times, the bollards’ installation could be complicated by the city’s underground transit system.

“If you want to make them so they can really stop a vehicle, they need to go some distance into the ground,” The city’s transportation commissioner Polly Trottenberg said, according to the paper.

Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian

Follow Rachel .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Tags: new york citypedestrian safety

Next City App Never Miss A StoryDownload our app ×

You've reached your monthly limit of three free stories.

This is not a paywall. Become a free or sustaining member to continue reading.

  • Read unlimited stories each month
  • Our email newsletter
  • Webinars and ebooks in one click
  • Our Solutions of the Year magazine
  • Support solutions journalism and preserve access to all readers who work to liberate cities

Join 880 other sustainers such as:

  • Stephanie in Pawtucket, RI at $5/Month
  • Kristin in Detroit, MI at $5/Month
  • Ben in Van Nuys, CA at $5/Month

Already a member? Log in here. U.S. donations are tax-deductible minus the value of thank-you gifts. Questions? Learn more about our membership options.

or pay by credit card:

All members are automatically signed-up to our email newsletter. You can unsubscribe with one-click at any time.

  • Donate $20 or $5/Month

    2022-2023 Solutions of the Year magazine

  • Donate $40 or $10/Month

    Brave New Home by Diana Lind