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by MONITOR
ALL those who know the unique appeal of Manhattan will be pleased to read that Mayor Bloomberg has decided to ban traffic from Times Square and to make the area surrounding it a pedestrian precinct with trees and plants, and open-air tables and chairs. To achieve this the Mayor will also have to ban traffic from five city blocks of Broadway north of 42nd Street. There will be the usual complaints, especially from taxi and limousine drivers, because the area is at the heart of New York's theatreland. Initially this change is being billed as an experiment to run from the beginning of June to the end of the year but unless it causes traffic gridlock elsewhere with diverted vehicles it is likely to become a permanent feature. The history of such projects almost everywhere in the world is that they are initially resisted by businesses in the affected area but are soon welcomed because of the increased number of people they bring who enjoy walking without the distraction and noise of traffic. It will be surprising if this behaviour pattern is not repeated in Times Square which is a major tourist attraction. A year or so ago Mayor Bloomberg was talking about introducing a traffic control system to a large area of central Manhattan on the lines of Ken Livingstone's London scheme. Perhaps he has had second thoughts and the Times Square project is a more limited alternative.