Bloomberg changing street space in other cities, too

Manhattan and Central Park are seen from the

Manhattan and Central Park are seen from the "Top of the Rock" observation deck. (Getty Images) (Credit: Manhattan and Central Park are seen from the "Top of the Rock" observation deck. (Getty Images))

Correction appended below.

The effects of the indelible mark the Bloomberg administration has left on city streets have reverberated beyond the five boroughs.

Hundreds of experts in urban design and officials with downtown-focused organizations from around the country and world came to New York this week to learn how they can emulate the Big Apple's pedestrian-friendly public spaces in their cities.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed the International Downtown Association's World Congress Tuesday, touting his controversial initiatives to dramatically alter the city's streetscape with public plazas, pedestrian-safety designs and a car-free Times Square, and by expanding business improvement districts.

"You're welcome to plagiarize all of our ideas," the mayor said at the close of his address.

And attendees were ready to take him up on the offer.

"We reference New York examples all the time in terms of the increase in sales that results from pedestrianization, the increase in quality of life and walkability," said Ty Tabing, a Chicagoan who is executive director of Singapore River One.

Tabing's organization aims to attract people to the Singapore River, a once-polluted waterway that has been turned into a waterfront destination. His goal is to put in public amenities to serve the area's nightlife scene and cut down on the loitering and (legal) public drinking near the river.

After seeing a table tennis game while walking in Bryant Park on Sunday, Tabing said he wants to bring that to Singapore, where table tennis is popular.

"I saw those Ping-Pong tables and I said, 'We're going to do this on the Singapore River,'" Tabing said. He also said he wanted to eventually emulate Bloomberg's Times Square experiment by having the sole street near the Singapore River permanently closed to traffic.

"For me to come here to see one of the best cities of the world and how they activate spaces, it provides enthusiasm and examples of how a city like Singapore, who's new to this, can embrace some of these things," Tabing said.

Meanwhile, Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana, CEO of Cape Town Partnership in South Africa and an IDA board member, embraced New York's strict enforcement of quality-of-life laws in public spaces.

"It's the no-broken-windows syndrome: Basically anything that shouldn't be happening should be enforced," Makalima-Ngewana said. "You are very systematic in enforcing the law."

New York's business improvement district system was also a popular facet that IDA attendees wanted to bring to their cities. The Bloomberg administration saw 23 new BIDs form -- 20 in the outer boroughs-- totaling 67 neighborhood retail groups.

"It's the work of the BID that it's possible to take a walk at night," said Pierre Boudreault, director of operations for Destination Centre-Ville in Montreal, which has about a dozen BIDs.

"It's an incredible tool for the city -- [Bloomberg] understands that."

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Ty Tabing,  executive director of Singapore River One, saw people playing Ping Pong in Central Park. It was Bryant Park.

Tags: NEWS , Michael Bloomberg , Ty Tabing , Pierre Boudreault , International Downtown Association , Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana , ARTICLE , AMNY , HOLD

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