DOT Pedestrian Plaza Rules

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Effective Date: 
Monday, June 20, 2016


Pursuant to Administrative Code of the City of New York § 19-157, the New York City Department of Transportation (“DOT” or “the Department”) adopts these rules in order to provide a regulatory framework for the Department’s pedestrian plazas.  

Since 2008, DOT’s Plaza Program has created high-quality public spaces in underutilized roadways throughout the City, especially in neighborhoods that lack open space.  The Department refers to such spaces as “pedestrian plazas.”  Currently, there are 53 pedestrian plazas open to the public and another 20 in planning or under construction.  These plazas range from major spaces like Times Square and Flatiron in Manhattan, which attract millions of visitors every year, to more local spaces like Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights, Queens and Osborn Street Plaza in Brownsville, Brooklyn that function as neighborhood gathering places.

These rules codify the application process by which the Department currently designates most of its plazas and create a new proposal submission process.  Specifically, the rules detail how a proposal or application must be submitted, what documentation must be submitted with each proposal or application, and how DOT evaluates and selects each proposal or application.  In designating an area as a pedestrian plaza, DOT must consider, among other things: (1) the availability of and need for open space in surrounding areas; (2) the ability of DOT or the pedestrian plaza partner to properly maintain the plaza and develop programming; and (3) the relationship of the pedestrian plaza to surrounding land uses, traffic and pedestrian activity and safety.

The rules also set forth uniform rules, including a list of general, prohibited, and regulated uses, which will govern all pedestrian plazas unless the Department promulgates specific rules for any given plaza or any space within a plaza.    

Finally, the rules create specific rules for the “Times Square Pedestrian Plaza,” which is located along 12 blocks on Broadway from 41st Street to 53rd Street in Manhattan.  These Times Square-specific rules also affect the sidewalks directly adjacent to the Times Square Pedestrian Plaza.  The rules permit the addition of Pedestrian Flow Zones and Designated Activity Zones in order to safely and effectively manage one of the world’s most visited spaces.  Pedestrian Flow Zones are clear paths for the safe and continuous movement of pedestrian traffic and will be marked with reflective white tape and indicated by signs.  Designated Activity Zones are highly visible areas providing ample space for activities without impeding those passing through or those who simply wish not to participate in those activities.  Designated Activity Zones will be demarcated by colored pavement and indicated by signs.

In response to comments received by the Department, the following changes were made to the proposed rules, which are reflected in the adopted rules:

 ·        Added a definition for the new term “Designated Activities” to section 4-01;

·         Clarified the definition of “Designated Activity Zone” in section 4-01;

·         Modified pedestrian plaza application submission period for 2016 in section 4-16(a)(2)(ii);

·         Included notice requirement prior to pedestrian plaza designation in section 4-16(a)(2)(vi)(B);

·         Clarified sections 4-16(c)(10) and (11) to take into account existing penal law provisions;

·         Provided a list identifying the sidewalks directly adjacent to the Times Square Pedestrian Plaza in section 4-16(e)(2); and

·         Clarified the applicability of the Designated Activity Zones in the Times Square Pedestrian Plaza in section 4-16(e)(4).