A Walk Thru The Flatiron District

Myles Franklin | June 22, 2021

A few days ago, I took a walk through the Gramercy area of New York City. This area is most notable for the triangular Flatiron Building and the numerous restaurants, parks, and other attractions that surround the building.

As soon as I started watching Pascal’s videos, I noticed that there’s a very distinct difference between Amsterdam and New York City in who the roads cater to. Streets in New York and the rest of the United States are car-centric while streets in Amsterdam are cyclist-centric. In New York, only a sliver of space is dedicated to cyclists on the side of the roads. The bike lanes in New York and most U.S. cities feel like an afterthought because so little space is dedicated to them in comparison to the wide lanes for cars. In fact, some street sections of the Flatiron District don’t even have bike lanes. In Amsterdam, a lot more space is dedicated to cyclists. In some cases, entire areas are dedicated to cyclists, so bicycles and cars aren’t competing for space on the roads. The Flatiron District has vast areas that are dedicated to pedestrians but almost none dedicated solely to cyclists. For example, there’s a 2-3 block space in front of the Flatiron Building that doesn’t allow cars. As a I think further about it, this area isn’t actually dedicated to pedestrians. It’s actually dedicated to activity and commerce. The 2-3 block area is filled with tables, benches, greenery, and park areas while being surrounded by commerce, such as restaurants and clothing stores. This space is actually consumer centric. In Amsterdam, it seemed that the areas that didn’t allow cars were actually designed with transportation as the primary purpose since they actually lead to various parts of the city. In the United States, areas that don’t allow cars are often designed with consumerism as the primary purpose since the paths often lead around a small area filled with shops.

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